Microsoft Breaks Ground on Water-Saving Silicon Valley Campus

Artist’s rendering of Microsoft’s new Silicon Valley Campus. Credit: Microsoft Inc.

by | Dec 6, 2017

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Microsoft Living Building Challenge campus water efficiency

Artist’s rendering of Microsoft’s new Silicon Valley Campus. Credit: Microsoft Inc.

Microsoft recently broke ground on a new 643,000-square-foot Silicon Valley campus in Mountain View that the company says is designed to achieve net-zero non-potable water certification under the Living Building Challenge.

Once complete, 100% of the buildings’ non?drinking water will come from rainfall or onsite recycled water, the company says. First released as a certification program in 2006 by the International Living Future Institute, the Living Building Challenge is a rigorous performance standard for buildings. Two years ago, the US Green Building Council started recognizing the standard’s energy and water requirements within the LEED green building program.

“Our campus will have an integrated water management system that operates under the guiding principle of putting non-potable water into service more than once,” Microsoft’s CTO Kevin Scott wrote in a post on the company’s official blog. “This includes harvesting rainwater and installing an onsite wastewater plant for treatment.” Using such an approach should help the company reduce potable water consumption by more than 5%, Scott added.

Here’s how it works, according to Microsoft:

  • Rainwater will be harvested from clean roofs and solar panels, and used on the landscape and in the toilets on campus
  • Wastewater will be processed from campus kitchens and bathrooms, then treated and reused for irrigation and toilets on campus
  • Stormwater will be retained on a living roof and collected from paved areas, treated by rain gardens and run to Stevens Creek to improve vitality

Water is an important issue for the company, Josh Henretig, senior director of environmental sustainability at Microsoft told Environmental Leader this year. “Companies that did not anticipate the water risks are playing defense rather than offense,” he says. “At Microsoft, we feel more comfortable when we’re proactively managing these issues.”

Besides water, the buildings on the new campus are being designed to meet the LEED Platinum certification. They will feature solar panels and a 4-acre living roof. Sustainably sourced cross-laminated timber (CLT) and exposed finishes should reduce the total number of materials required as well. The company estimates the campus to be ready for occupancy in December 2019.

We are accepting submissions for the 2018 Environmental Leader Awards. The final deadline is December 15, 2017. Learn more here.

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