Archive for August 2011
This blog will finish up the discussion of Water Efficiency as it relates to LEED certification. This, the third and final component, deals with Indoor Water Use.
Indoor water use efficiency differs from the previous two components in a way that up until now we haven’t had a chance or need, to talk about. Marketing. If you’ll remember the first component had to do with water REUSE. Other than infrastructure changes, for the most part this very green aspect occurs with little or no notice from the occupant. Even the second component, outdoor water use efficiency, can be implemented in a very green way without compromising anything in the how the property looks or functions. To be a successful green builder, you have to walk the fine line between being green and doing what’s best for the planet, and providing a product that the modern homebuyer has come to expect from a new home and how it lives. The reality of green building is that almost everyone SAYS they want to be green, but if they have to pay extra for it or it changes their way of life in a dramatic fashion, they’ll opt out of being green in a heartbeat.
Which gets us back to the Indoor Water Use efficiency component of LEED.
When it comes to indoor water use, its pretty simple. Wherever it comes out, try and make LESS of it come out, yet still accomplish its purpose. That’s the purest definition of efficiency…accomplishing the same with less. Showers, faucets, toilets, washers & dishwashers are pretty much the extent of our indoor water use, but can you think of five more important aspects of every day life in our modern society? Indoor water use efficiency is achieved by installing faucets and fixtures that lower the output of water to its designated use. Low flow fixtures and faucets definitely accomplish the goal of being efficient but this is where the tricky part of being a green builder in this aspect comes into play. People love their long luxurious showers, they want their dishes sparkling and their clothes soft and clean….and there can be nothing more annoying than having to flush a toilet twice to achieve its intended use. In other words purchasing low flow faucets and fixtures based on cost alone without researching which ones accomplish the goal of efficiency WITHOUT sacrificing function needs to be the absolute goal in this component. Being penny wise and pound foolish here can actually turn out to be very costly to a builder from a customer satisfaction standpoint. That’s why this aspect needs to be carefully planned out and implemented.
The very best low flow faucets and fixtures are NOT inexpensive. That makes this component of LEED a costly green aspect. As with all other products, I imagine the evolution will continue and low flow items will get better and cheaper. The Green Builder will continue to monitor the progress of this evolution but until function and cost become more realistic in how they can affect marketing and customer satisfaction, this expensive aspect of green building will have to be implemented with great caution.
Next time we’ll begin our discussion of another of LEED’s eight categories. We’ve discussed energy and water efficiency over the last several blogs.
Next we’ll tackle “Sustainable Sites”