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Water Infrastructure in Planned Communities

Water Infrastructure in Planned Communities

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Innovations in commercial construction pave the way for sustainable urban development

More and more, the construction industry of Texas has been recognizing the benefits of reducing the environmental impact of buildings and construction activities.

This trend is fueled by a growing awareness of environmental issues, including climate change, water scarcity, and resource depletion. Texas, like many other regions, has been implementing stricter environmental regulations and building codes to promote energy efficiency and sustainability. As a result, sustainable practices are being integrated into commercial construction projects. 

One goal of sustainable urban design is to help structures better withstand the weather. Parks, green roofs, and permeable pavements can help preserve biodiversity, manage stormwater, reduce islands of urban heat, and improve air quality—thereby enhancing both environmental and human well-being.

Materials and Techniques

Sustainable urban developments reduce waste, save water, and use energy more efficiently. They do so by incorporating systems to harvest rainwater, solar panels, energy-efficient HVAC systems, smart building controls, and similar technology. Meanwhile, passive solar design uses the energy of the sun to heat and cool living spaces. The construction industry in Texas can also take advantage of wind energy. Solar energy and wind energy reduce the impact of buildings on the environment while lowering energy costs. 

In Texas, many commercial construction companies strive to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for their projects. The certification recognizes a commitment to sustainable building practices. In 2022, Texas was one of the top ten states for LEED projects. In 2023, it was one of the top five states for TRUE projects; TRUE certification recognizes a commitment to reducing waste.

Planning Water/Wastewater Infrastructure

Smart urban planning involves designing infrastructure with resilience in mind. This means building resilient water and wastewater systems that promote efficient use of resources, reduce waste, and facilitate recycling. Systems that recycle wastewater can make it easier to cope with water scarcity.

Planning for growth and new commercial development includes providing for treatment of the wastewater produced by large office buildings and warehouses. For example, when planning water treatment in the Houston area, which is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States, water and wastewater treatment systems are often financed using flexible lease or lease-to-purchase agreements that allow for expansion of the treatment system as the city expands.

Smarter and Safer Infrastructure

Technology can do much to improve the efficiency and safety of construction projects.

Advances in digital tools and other technology have significantly impacted the construction industry, providing new ways to plan, execute, and manage projects. By collecting data, providing visualization, and performing dangerous tasks, technologies like 3D building information modeling, project management software, drones, robotics, smart sensors, and data analytics can improve safety and foster more efficient resource management and decision-making. It all adds up to a more resilient and sustainable urban environment.

Urban Planning and Design Considerations

Several basic principles inform thoughtful urban planning and design of commercial construction. The following core principles aim to create sustainable, livable, and well-functioning urban environments:

Mixed-use development. Using land for diverse purposes in a neighborhood allows people to live, work, and have fun all within the same short distance. This convenience makes it easy for people to walk instead of depending on vehicles.

Better transit. By encouraging the use of public transportation, development of transit nodes or corridors reduces congestion and emissions while making amenities more accessible.

More walkable streets. Designing streets and public spaces to better accommodate pedestrians by attending to scale, comfort, and safety enhances the urban experience, encourages physical activity, and helps local businesses.

Green spaces and public parks. Adding green spaces and parks to urban areas provides recreational areas, enhances aesthetics, and improves air quality.

Better access. Making urban spaces more accessible to people of all ages, abilities, and socioeconomic backgrounds promotes social cohesion.

Water-Efficient Landscaping and Development
Water-efficient landscaping emerges as a pivotal strategy, complementing green spaces with “water-wise” landscaping tailored to local conditions. This may include native plants and water treatment systems that recycle wastewater. The recycled water can then be used as irrigation water for maintaining parks, landscaping, and recreational facilities. 

Water treatment professionals in Texas actively engage in innovative practices, collaborating within the commercial construction sector to build a more sustainable and water-conscious future for Houston residents. As the construction industry aligns with environmental goals, the integration of resilient water infrastructure becomes paramount for the holistic success of master-planned communities.



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