Rainwater Harvesting at the NAU ARD Building


The ARD Team

Porject Description

Design Process

Site Location

Precipitation Analysis

Water Consumption

Rooftop Analysis

Sizing and Location

Water Distribution

Applicable Regulations



Rooftop Analysis


The Applied Research and Development building at Northern Arizona University was designed to be a place where students could gather and research.  A major contributor to the funding of the project was Paul Keim PhD. of the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).  The focus of the TGen laboratories located on the third floor of the ARD Building is Pathogen Genomics, and thus access to parts of the building and building plans have been restricted. 

Methods for Gathering Information

In an effort to gather as much information that we could about the design of the ARD rooftop, and the drainage design for the building we began with talking to Dr. Trotta, our technical advisor, in order to make contacts on campus that would help us to find the information that we would need to complete our design.  We were referred to Capital Assets on campus, and were told that because the plans were restricted we would not be able to get a copy of the essential parts that we needed.  We then worked through our client to find people who might have access to the information that we needed.  We were referred to Karan English of the Landsward Institute who was a major driving force in getting a LEED Platinum building on Northern Arizona University’s campus.  We met with Karan several times to discuss our project.  We were referred by Karan to Lindsay Wagner, who was able to help find the information that we needed for our design.

Rooftop and Drainage System

The drainage system for the ARD building consists of six downspouts.  Four six inch downspouts are located on the interior of the building, and two are located on the exterior of the building.  Each downspout was designed to drain 2,600 ft2 of roof space.  The system was designed for a maximum of 2 in. of rainfall. 


In order to come up with the most cost effective design for a rainwater harvesting system the ARD group had decided to focus on the exterior downspouts for the collection of rainwater.  This approach will allow us to proceed with minimum modification of the systems that are already in place.  The downspout on the western end of the building is ideally situated for access to the gardening area, and is our best option for a collection source.