Bipin Pokharel Participated in the RiverSmart Rewards and Stormwater Retention Credit (SRC) Trading Program

Every day, PEER realizes its vision as a prosperous and productive environmental company that exceeds the expectations of our clients and employees, while delivering high-quality services that enhance the natural and built environments. As a prime example and as part of our efforts to engage, educate and ensure that our staff remains current with subject matter in their assigned projects, Mr. Bipin Pokharel, an Environmental Scientist at PEER, participated in a workshop at the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) that discussed the Stormwater Retention Credit (SRC) Trading Program and the RiverSmart Program.

In July 2013, the DDOE made amendments to the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations (DCMR), Chapter 5 - Water Quality and Pollution - of Title 21 - Water and Sanitation. The regulations were revised to meet the requirements set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit, which is part of the National Pollutant Elimination System (NPDES) established by the Clean Water Act (CWA) of 1972. The amendment primarily aims to reduce the amount of pollutants that may wash off from the District’s impervious surfaces into local waterways. This will in turn improve the health of the District’s waterbodies overtime and make them functional for District residents, businesses, and visitors by meeting requirements of the CWA and the EPA water quality standards regulations.

Prior to the amendment, the initial stormwater regulations impacted only large construction projects of 5,000 square feet or more in size; the amended rule also includes large renovation projects of 5,000 square feet or more. The amendment requires owners of “large” construction projects to retain water generated from a 1.2-inch storm and owners of “large” renovation projects to retain volume of water generated from a 0.8-inch storm. Owners can achieve these stormwater retention requirements by the on-site installation of 12 pre-identified Best Management Practices (BMPs) or one of the propriety BMPs. These pre-identified BMPs are described in detail in the DDOE 2013 Stormwater Management Guidebook (2013 SWMG).  The owners are required to retain at least one-half of the retention volume on-site and the remaining one-half of the storm volume can be collected through a payment of an “in-lieu” fee to the DDOE or through innovative stormwater retention credits (SRCs) in the new market.  

Homeowners and other property owners that are not subject to the new rule can still benefit from the new rule by participating in the DDOE’s RiverSmart program. The program provides financial incentives to property owners and developers for installing the 12 pre-identified BMPs. The RiverSmart program provides these incentives in the form of a discount up to 55% off of the DDOE Stromwater Fee and up to a 4% discount off of the DC Water’s Clean Rivers Impervious Area Charge. Currently, these fees appear on a District resident’s water bill as two separate items. In addition, the RiverSmart program provides property owners with a rebate/SRC to install one of the 12 pre-identified BMPs or one of the propriety BMPs, which can be traded in an open market for financial gains.

In August 2014, PEER hosted a workshop in its headquarter’s office in Washington, DC with Mr. Joe D. Byles where he discussed new energy-efficient roofing and resource conserving technologies. Mr. Byles is a “green” services inventor who has developed an innovative system that dramatically increases the output of rooftop PV solar cells by 20% - 30% and rainwater retention.

PV solar cell installers have been looking at cool white roofs and vegetated green roofs to provide a cooler environment for PV solar cell installations on rooftops, but the problem is that the PV cells shade the cool white roof and vegetated roof, thus minimizing the effect of reflecting the solar energy and growing plants. To solve this problem, Mr. Byles has developed a catchment device, which can be attached to the low-end of a sloped PV panel, to capture rainwater that falls onto the PV cell during a rainstorm. He has combined a wicking material with a cross-linked polymer cloth that is attached to the backside of the PV cell such that the storm water in the catchment is wicked and absorbed by the cross-linked polymer cloth. The cross-linked polymer cloth with the absorbed water attached to the back of the panel then absorbs heat built up in the PV cell and cools the entire panel by the latent heat of evaporation (sublimation) on the back side and creates a cooling micro-climate around the PV panel. The PV panel with the wicking material attached to it is dramatically cooler and the measured voltage and efficiency are much greater.

This is a passive system with no moving parts and can be installed on any PV solar system. The unit catches rainwater and distributes it to the polymer material attached to the backside of the PV panel, absorbing heat from the panel and cooling the PV solar panel through latent heat of sublimation. This system has the added benefit of providing stormwater capture, detention and beneficial use to roofs installed with PV solar panel systems (a win for combined sewer overflow and overtaxed stormwater sewer systems). This system is very cost-efficient and can easily be retrofit to existing PV solar panel systems. Moreover, in comparison with existing PV solar systems, the innovative system has greater efficiency and increased voltage output and the installation serves as a stormwater capturing system, too. This innovative system has a bonus design feature that allows for make-up water to be placed into the catchment, while the efficiency and voltage boost is realized, if desired, in between storm events. This very same water can also be used as chill tower water.

PEER believes that this system is at the forefront as a solution for complying with the absorption of stormwater on commercial property, the efficiency of rooftop solar panels and reducing the roof heat load to make commercial buildings more energy-efficient. This system is a viable option for compliance with the new stormwater regulations and the increasing building energy benchmarks also regulated by DDOE.

Please contact PEER to provide the necessary planning and implementation services needed to assist you (i.e. residential and commercial building owners) in complying with the amendment and with the recent changes to the regulation. For commercial building owners and managers in particular, we are glad to help you obtain the ‘trading credits’ described above. Should you have any questions or for more information, please do not hesitate to contact us.