"Someone who already has a rainwater system is probably not going to change their roofing material based on this study, but this information is useful for anyone who's trying to make an informed decision about what material to use," Kirisits said.
Over the course of a year, Kirisits, her co-Principal Investigators Professor Kerry Kinney and Research Associate Professor Michael Barrett and their engineering students examined water collected from five roofing materials: asphalt fiberglass shingle, Galvalume, concrete tile, cool and green roofs.
The test sites included both pilot-scale and full-scale residential roofs one of which was the roof on the home of Kirisits and her husband. The other roofs were located at or near the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, where her team had the expertise of the center's director of research and consulting, Dr. Mark Simmons, who helped them interpret some of their findings.
"We had a phenomenal graduate and undergraduate student team. I think the research topic captured their imagination because it's tangible; it's something they could do in their own home. They can talk to their parents about it and they get it," Kirisits said. "Our generation of students is sustainable and green-minded, so it was a great project for them to be involved in and lead."
Rainwater harvesting has been practiced in some form or another for centuries, but its popularity declined in the United States after the advent of large centralized water supply systems that provide cheap, reliable and abundant water.
The practice has experienced a rebirth in the United States in recent years, however, thanks largely to growing environmental concerns and dwindling water supplies in parts of the country.
|Contact: Melissa Mixon|
University of Texas at Austin