A New Norris House: Phase IV

Live-In Evaluation and Monitoring of a design/build effort

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    Water Monitoring Introduction

    By newnorrishouse
    Oct 17, '11 2:08 PM EST

    Now that our water systems are up and running, it's time to begin the monitoring and analysis process. My task as a graduate assistant is to formalize a sampling and analysis protocol for testing water quality on both the supply side and the waste water side.

    A little about me: My name is Valerie Friedmann and I am in my third year of studies as a graduate student in landscape architecture at UTK. My role in the New Norris House project began as a landscape architecture student consultant in the spring of 2010. I began by refining the conceptual landscape design, and continued working on the project to see it through the construction and installation phases. Last summer, with I worked a group of UTK students to finalize construction documents, order materials, and construct the landscape elements. Now that our landscape system is online with the home's rainwater overflow and greywater discharge systems, I am very excited to determine the efficacy of the landscape systems in mediating the quality of the greywater and the flow, velocity, and erosion potential of the rainwater.

    Back to the monitoring process:

    On the water supply side, our design includes a rainwater harvesting system that collects rainwater from the roof of the home and stores it in a 400 gallon cistern. The water is filtered and treated with UV an used for non-potable sources in the home. We have a temporary permit to allow rainwater to be used in the home, and we are testing to compare the rainwater composition pre- and post-treatment to the City of Norris municipal water supply.

    Our goal is 01) to learn if the rainwater quality we are collecting and treating would produce water that is safe for use as a potable source and 02) how the water quality compares to the city's water quality. The City of Norris revised its ordinances to allow the systems to work and be plumbed as such in the New Norris Home while UTK owns the home. Results may allow extension of the permit to a future owner, and perhaps other town residents. A second test we are interested in concerns the greywater. We have designed and installed a greywater treatment garden, and we would like to sample the greywater as it leaves the house and at various distances from where it enters the greywater treatment bed. The goal here is to see if pollutants from the greywater are successfully being mediated in the bed. We currently have a temporary State Operation Permit from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) that allows us to collect, treat and release greywater in the beds; this will expire after three years or when UTK sells the property. TDEC has been very supportive and is interested in the results of the study and its potential to effect future state policies.

    Image Credit: Ken McCown

    We are currently working with TDEC officials and UTK professors from the Department of Biosystems Engineering to develop our testing protocol for both rainwater and greywater analysis. I will be posting updates on our process and results throughout the semester, so stay tuned!

    Learn more about the project at

    As noted in the introductory post, this blog will feature multiple contributors: The two residents of the home, two graduate research assistants, and possibly others involved in the project. We will try to make it clear who you are hearing from!

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About this Blog

The New Norris House is a design/build effort from the University of Tennessee's College of Architecture and Design. Began in 2009, the home was designed and built by UT students in collaboration with Clayton Homes. The built project is now complete and the final phase of the project has begun. A team of 4 people (2 living in the home, and 2 graduate researchers) will rigorously document the experience via qualitative assessments and quantitative measurements, posting results to this blog.

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