UBC Undergraduate Research

An investigation into the use of solar aquatic wastewater treatment in the new UBC farm centre building : a triple bottom line assessment Liyanage, Chamith; Al-Qutub, Wajih; Dusome, Ian; Motalebi, Sina; Fu, Hsuan Wei


The UBC farm is moving forward with the design and construction of a new farm center building and as a world leader in sustainable agriculture, this building should reflect those ideals. The goal is for the building is to represent a living lab, fully integrated into the farms primary food production, while also setting a precedent for smart design and providing educational opportunities. In order to achieve these goals, every aspect of the buildings design must be carefully considered to ensure a fully integrated and sustainable system. A very important part of this system, especially in an agricultural setting, is the water usage. The Farm would like to employ an onsite wastewater treatment facility that captures rainwater, greywater and blackwater, treats it in an environmentally friendly method, and produces a high quality resource for agricultural use. This report provides a triple bottom line assessment on a solar aquatic style wastewater treatment facility, as one possible option to be considered by the farm. The triple bottom line assessment takes ecological, economic and social aspects into consideration in order to make recommendations. It combines primary research from discussions with ECO-TEK President Kim Rink, with secondary sources such as papers and journals. The important ecological aspects to be considered primarily involve the quality of the water produced by a solar aquatic system (SAS) treatment facility and its suitability in providing a safe and healthy resource for use on the farm. The economical investigation examines the cost feasibility and potential financial benefits of installing and operating a SAS. The social aspect looks into any benefits a SAS would have on the Farm and general UBC communities. It was found that the water produced from a SAS was consistently of high quality and can meet drinking water quality standards without further treatment. This would be more than enough for irrigation or other farm uses, however in order to be used as drinking water government regulation requires further treatment with chlorine. Also the SAS can be tailored to specifically target water quality issues such as heavy metal contamination or high endocrine disrupting compound (EDC) levels. Installing a SAS would also be a financially viable option for the UBC farm as it uses simple materials and is easy to install and maintain. It is also modular and reliable allowing for the system to be modified in the future with possible demand changes. A SAS is an attractive way of dealing with an unattractive waste product, while also meeting the goal of creating an educational living lab space. It fits well into the farm community, complying with many, if not all, of the farms core ideals and therefore, it would be a good choice for use in the new farm center building. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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