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Green Infrastructure, Low Impact Development, and Hawaii’s New Water Quality Regulations

Hawaii’s newly adopted rules regarding water quality go into effect on August 16, 2017, representing a significant shift in how home owners, architects, and construction companies design and build new homes on the islands. The new mandates hope to minimize water pollution caused by erosion and poor water drainage systems, but will inevitably increase the cost of new construction.

However, there are ways potential home builders can mitigate rising construction costs while still complying with the state’s new regulations. When researching architects and builders, look for professionals with experience in Low Impact Development (LID), and plan to incorporate LID or “green infrastructure” into your design plans.

LID or green infrastructure refers to construction and engineering practices that mimic the natural water cycle and prevents stormwater runoff from polluting the water supply, and Hawaii’s new water regulations hope to address stormwater pollution by preventing erosion and poor water drainage caused by land development. After August 16th, all new construction will need to submit construction plans detailing how their project complies with the new standards.

Here’s what you need to know about Hawaii’s new water quality rules, and how you can reduce construction costs through LID.While green infrastructure can be expensive, building a new home compliant with these regulations is still less expensive than trying to adapt existing structures.

  • Conventional residential construction removes almost all existing vegetation and topsoil prior to building. This leaves land vulnerable to erosion and flooding issues. The new water quality rules mandate that builders must address these issues by building expensive erosion barriers and digging trenches to redirect runoff.
  • However, by limiting the amount of disruption to the existing soil, construction projects can save time and prevent flood threats. Work with your architect to design a home that incorporates existing vegetation- orienting your home around mature trees or away from naturally occurring runoff trails.
  • A well-designed home can be functional and simultaneously prevent water pollution. Consider a rainwater collection system for your roof, which directs stormwater away from existing water supplies, and protects your home from dangerous leaks.
  • Design plans with reduced excavation requirements preserves indigenous soil distribution, so consider building a single level home with minimal foundation requirements. * Limit the use of large concrete blocks in favor of interlocking concrete pavers which allows water to naturally absorb into the soil instead of pooling and collecting bacteria.

Need help finding an expert in LID or want to make sure your plans are in compliance with the new water quality rules? Let us help you find the best professionals for your project and your budget.

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