Latrobe: Drylands Resilience Initiative

A digital design tool—funded by the 2015 Latrobe Prize from the AIA College of Fellows –that enables communities in arid climates to capture, retain, and distribute stormwater runoff.

Completed: 2015
Location: United States
Partners: Arid Lands Institute, Water Systems Group, ARUP, San Francisco Department of Public Works, City of Los Angeles, Perkins&Will

“Tools like Hazel can help in the early assessment on the demand side, while also identifying suitable sites for credit supply. Using Hazel, credit supply-side actors, like the Nature Conservancy (or other advocates) could quickly identify where the demand is coming from and assess the scale of the demand and find suitable locations to begin planning credit supply projects. Hazel gives us a window into where and how to best implement green infrastructure to take advantage of underlying conditions and maximize private investments.”

– Rowan Roderick Jones, Nature Conservancy
Using a Digital Design Tool to Increase Stormwater Capture for Cities
The 2015 Latrobe prize enabled a cross-disciplinary team of partners led by the Arid Lands Institute to develop and test a digital design tool, known as “Hazel,” that allows arid communities anywhere to design and build the infrastructure needed to capture, retain and distribute stormwater runoff.  The technology builds on previous public- and private sector-funded research to maximize low-carbon localized water supply; shape water-smart urban planning, zoning and building policy; identify key sites for public and private investment; develop pilot projects that are scalable and replicable; build water-conversant design professions and support water-sensitive design education.  Hazel collects data and enables engineers and architects to make more thoughtful decisions on the integration of stormwater capture and reuse in their projects.
Hazel is working at a crossroads of need and activity. Hundreds of cities across the United States are non-compliant with stormwater stewardship laws, but a growing funding gap resulting from limited federal investment and billions of dollars in hardware repairs makes it difficult for cities to make the necessary improvements. Public-Private partnerships could help fill this gap, as demonstrated in Philadelphia, Detroit, Atlanta, and Washington. Storm water credit trading provides incentive for these partnerships and Hazel is well positioned to support those markets. Hazel’s ability to identify districts, zones, and varying degrees of hydrologic value in specific lots could be essential to shaping healthy credit markets.