Launch Slideshow

Illustration on How to Create Water Efficiencies in the Home

Illustration on How to Create Water Efficiencies in the Home

  • http://www.ecobuildingpulse.com/Images/water_illo_half1WEB_tcm131-790546.jpg

    true

    600

    A) WATER METER
    Subsurface with grade-level display; wireless with leak detection and pressure regulator

    B) RAINWATER COLLECTION
    Cistern, filter, irrigation control; overflow and filtered matter to storm drain

    C) STORMWATER DRAINAGE
    Collect rainwater from roof/gutter system for irrigation; also contains runoff on site versus storm drain

    D) HOT-WATER RECIRCULATION
    Motion detector– or manual button–activated recirculation (all bathrooms)

    E) BATH FAUCETS
    32% potential water savings per EPA WaterSense standard; also a greywater source

    F) SHOWER
    20% potential water savings with EPA WaterSense-qualified low-flow showerheads; also a greywater source

    G) WATER MONITOR
    Real-time use via PC per water meter; also leak detection and irrigation control

    H) TOILET
    20% potential water savings with 1.28-gpf models vs. 1.6-gpf, per EPA WaterSense standard; greywater supply eliminates use of potable water

    I) GREYWATER SYSTEM
    Greywater capture, filtering, and storage (tank); supplies household toilets (purple pipe)

    J) HOT-WATER RECIRCULATION PUMP
    Pump and closed-loop piping to water heater reduces lag time (water waste); activated by motion detector or manual button

    K) CENTRALIZED PLUMBING
    Shorter pipe runs (40 feet or less) from the water heater to reduce lag time

    L) PLUMBING SUPPLY
    Manifold/logic setup (blue and red pipe)

  • http://www.ecobuildingpulse.com/Images/water_illo_half2WEB_tcm131-790547.jpg

    true

    600

    M) DISHWASHER
    30% water savings with Energy Star–qualified models

    N) CLOTHES WASHER
    33% potential water savings with Energy Star–qualified models; also a potential greywater source

    O) LEAKS (OUTDOOR AND INDOOR)
    Average 14% of annual householdM) water use (7,900 gallons per year)

    P) PLANTS
    Native and drought-tolerant; grouped by similar irrigation needs; watered by drip irrigation

    Q) TURF AREAS
    No more than 40% of lot; native and drought-tolerant; watered by rotating spray heads

    R) IRRIGATION SYSTEM
    Smart controls; weather-based and/or soil sensor

    S) PERMEABLE AREAS
    Permeable pavers on sand bed reduce stormwater runoff from the site

    T) POOL COVER
    Pool/spa cover to reduce evaporation

  • http://www.ecobuildingpulse.com/Images/water-illo_spreadWEB_tcm131-790570.jpg

    true

    600

A federal Energy Star–qualified unit is rated to use at least half the amount of water as a non-qualified product, and potentially far less. The program calculates and lists each machine’s Water Factor to indicate its efficiency; the lower the number, the more water it saves, and some units are far below the baseline standard.

Problem is, only about a third of new homes include laundry equipment, and occupant behavior—such as running only full loads—is critical to optimizing the machine’s estimated water and energy savings.

Energy Star dishwashers, meanwhile, use about 30% less water than non-qualified counterparts, but their impact on a home’s overall water use ranks low, reducing their investment value in that regard. Still, qualified dishwashers are 80% more water efficient than hand-washing. (See “Awash in Savings,” page 31, for more on washers and dishwashers.)

OUTSIDE EFFICIENCIES

By far the greatest consumption of household potable water—more than 55% on average, according to the AWWA—occurs outside, primarily for landscape irrigation and more precisely for turf areas. Not only that, but a good measure of outdoor water is wasted from a combination of overwatering, leaks, poor planning, and bad habits.

While significantly reducing that use is certainly possible with proven technologies and tactics, it’s a more complex formula compared to indoor options; not only are relatively few builders required to provide comprehensive landscaping plans and irrigation systems for the homes they build, but regulatory barriers, higher costs, and ongoing maintenance chores may thwart the potential to reduce water consumption.

Still, some builders, especially those committed to sustainable design and construction practices, are extending those efforts outside. “There’s a disconnect between the green goals of the house and what can be achieved in the landscaping,” says Michael Lenahan, president of Aurora Custom Homes in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., who includes a line item in the construction budget for the cost of a landscape designer and a comprehensive plan and irrigation system. “It’s a true systems approach to sustainability.”