Dec 03, 2014

Beaches & Biofilters

Malibu, Calif., restaurant increases revenue and manages storm water through biofiltration

bioretention, modular wetlands, nobu
bioretention, modular wetlands, nobu
The developers of Malibu, Calif., restaurant Nobu faced challenges requiring solutions that were both subtle and productive. They responded with an award-winning architectural space and a dynamic storm water management tool, saving millions while protecting the habitat that features and supports the restaurant, the Pacific Ocean.  
Nobu is set on some of the most valuable square footage in the world, and maximizing space and efficiency was a top priority. The building envelope, parking lot, landscaping and community areas designs are examples of Malibu’s esthetically simple, subtle and unobtrusive beauty.
As Nobu’s lead design team, Studio PCH knew that the streetscape must be a tightly packaged space that is both functional and beautiful. The Nobu streetscape enhances the idea of a standard landscape median with the integration of the Modular Wetland System Linear (MWS-L).  Accredited with Washington State’s Department of Ecology approval, the MWS-L is a storm water biofilter designed to replicate natural processes to remove a variety of pollutants from storm water runoff. 
Some of those pollutants include fine total suspended solids, bacteria, oils and grease, heavy metals, and harmful nutrients like nitrate and phosphorus that are known to overwhelm oxygen levels and devastate fish populations. The MWS-L is prefabricated for cost-effective installation and incorporates screening, hydrodynamic separation, sorbtive media filtration and bioretention into a single system.
According to the city of Malibu Clean Water Team, “Clean water is everyone’s business. Protecting water quality and ensuring all projects comply with regulations established to prevent environmental degradation are top priorities for the city of Malibu. Studies have shown that urban and storm water runoff are the leading contributors of pollutants to waterways. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has determined that, nationwide, storm water is a leading source of water pollution. Storm water and urban runoff carry pollutants including oil, dirt/sediment, animal waste containing bacteria, and chemicals such as pesticides and fertilizers directly to our local streams and Santa Monica Bay, where they can degrade water quality.” 
Conserving Land
Malibu real estate is pricey, at $200,000 per square foot of beachfront property, and the calculated value of the Nobu parking lot, based on market conditions and locational/physical comparability, is a whopping $30 million. 
When an average parking space has a ticket price of $500,000, it is easy to see how critical land conservation becomes. While basic bioretention systems occupy an average of 1,795 sq ft of space per impervious acre, the Modular Wetland System Linear is submerged and takes up a mere 63 sq ft. 
In Malibu, that is a $1.7 million difference, not including the restaurant-guest revenue attached to each individual parking space. Conservatively, installing the MWS-L instead of a conventional system saved 8 Nobu parking spaces; after that figure is multiplied by the $320,000 of revenue attached to each parking space, the bottom line is $2.56 million in saved revenue. 
Land-use efficiency is not the only budget-benefiting characteristic of the MWS-L. Traditional bioretention systems are heavily weighted when it comes to installation and maintenance.  Their investment for excavation and installation reaches over $52,000, but the MWS-L nearly cuts that in half at $29,755.
In one year, more than 215 lb of trash, foliage and sediment are removed from the Modular Wetland System Linear housed at Nobu Malibu—contaminants that otherwise would reach Carbon Beach. Instead, dry-weather run off and storm water contaminated with leaking oil, gasoline, fluids and trash are collected and treated before water is released into underground drain fields. 
The high-profile restaurant development has taken admirable steps to protect its shoreline, but the project also showcases the short- and long-term operational benefits of advanced storm water treatment systems and impressive ROI—a byproduct of versatile horizontal flow systems.

Modular Wetlands Systems Inc.


2972 San Luis Rey Rd.

Oceanside, CA 92058

United States

Phone: 760.433.7640

Fax: 760.433.3176