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Water Efficiency – Green Boots Notes

Mark Epler who works as an Assistant Project Manager with me has been attending Green Boots and here’s his notes from the 4/22/14 class on Water Efficiency… Enjoy.

EPA WaterSense – water conservation program/initiative through products, programs and practices

Showerheads output approx 73% hot water. Low flow shower head outputs less than EPA mandated 2.5gm @ 80psi, while high efficiency shower head is any shower head that outputs less than EPA mandate AND provides acceptable shower experience. Experience and requirements for WaterSense involve three factors: 1. water flow 2. spray force 3. spray coverage
Can save up to 2600gal/household/year if you replace a standard shower head with “eco” – based on average household shower use of 8.2min showers, .67showers/day/person, 2.6ppl/household

Faucets: up to 700/gal/year saved per faucet if replaced

Toilets: up to 13,000gal/household/yr saved if replaced
     toilets account for 30% residential indoor water consumption. avg american household flushes 16x/day. Average for older toilets is around 3.5+ gpf toilets.
new TX standard is  1.28gpf
Flushing Systems: E-Max, Double Cyclone, Dual Flush

Total of 22,600gal/yr that could potentially be saved per avg 2.6person size household/yr

Recommended manufacturer:  Hahnsgrohe – German plumbing fixture company
(Side Note: see my blog posts on Toilets recommendations here)


A few facts …
bathrooms are largest water user in home
70% indoor usage, 30% outdoor usage (50% which is wasted)
every gallon of water has an energy ‘footprint’

look for WaterSense label on fixtures
Education is just as large a part of water efficiency – what is going on inside your house  etc.
Family of four with WaterSense house would potentially save 50,000 gallons of water/yr  ($600/yr +)
WaterSense program can help reduce water use by 20% in new home.
water efficiency home inspection can be conducted by home energy raters and/or LEED providers – should not have to be add’l rating step.
3650 gal wasted/yr on avg waiting for hot water to be delivered to fixture + 10-15% energy used in hot water systems wasted through distribution loss
Water is only going to become an increased concern/importance – esp. in TX

New Home Specifications and Water budgeting tool for WaterSense program/certification (Outdoor + Indoor) – www.epa.gov/watersense

Presenter C. RAINWATER HARVESTING AND GRAYWATER REUSE (Innovative Water Solutions)

Major gains with indoor efficiency via appliances – toilets, washing machines, dishwashers etc., which leaves most gain to be had out of doors – landscaping. Which is where and why greywater and rain harvesting are so important.
Really hard to tell how and when rain is going to fall, so you want to position yourself to take advantage of it when it does fall  here.
Austin is in a good area of TX as far as annual avg precipitation to take advantage of rainwater collection.

Rainwater Math
1” rain on 1,000sq ft collection area = 623 gallons
___” of rain X ___ roof square ft X .623gal/sq ft

Reduces storm water runoff. better for lawn and garden plants. simple and low maintenance technology. helps on-site drainage problems.

Rainwater Uses: Outdoor water use, Indoor, non-potable water use, potable water use (w/ filtration and disinfection)

Ways to reduce water demand: native, drought tolerant plants. Xeroscaping. Low-impact development BMPs. Synthetic Grass

System Sizing and Efficiency: driven by Physical Space and Budget

In designing a system, a collection system is more than just a circle on a drawing. Think about the whole system, not just tank placement.

Two System Typologies: “Dry” and “Wet” Both have advantages and disadvantages

System Components:
-Inlet filtration is vital (i.e. gutter screens) – your gutters overflow or become blocked = no water collection.
-First flush also significant – first portion/flush of water carries higher percentage of ‘contaminant’. This is the initial ‘roof wash’. How much to divert in first flush depends on roof type, size, use of rainwater, and even geographic factors.
-Tank inlet filter and screen (2nd or 3rd line of defense)
-Pump System – all according to needs. Can be connected to irrigation, hose bibb only, on-demand etc.
-Backup Water Supply –

Types of collectors:
Metal Cisterns
Polyethylene Cisterns
Fiberglass Cisterns
Corrugated Metal Cisterns (have liners so water isn’t touching metal)
Pioneer Water Tanks (good price point)
Cladding options  (masonry, wood …)

Auxiliary water system permit required if you install a system with a pump. Currently, since there are no standards for RWH (Rainwater Harvesting), this largely entails having an RPZ installed.

RWHS used for potable water (if connected to PWS) must be installed and maintained by a Master Plumber who holds a Water Supply Protection Endorsement

Makes up almost 50% of household use – can be reused!

Graywater = bath sink – shower/tub – clothes washer
blackwater = topilet – kitchen sink – dishwater

already paid for, minimal treatment, no need to store (constant production), detergents (some/most nowadays) can be beneficial to plants, no permit needed if using < 400gal/day

No indoor use, no spray irrigation, can’t hold onto it (past 24hrs)

DUAL PLUMB!!! (If doing a new construction home) Even if only for future potential use, so that it’s available whether immediately or down the road.

Best, Matt Risinger

Risinger Homes is a custom builder and whole house remodeling contractor that specializes in Architect driven and fine craftsmanship work. We utilize an in-house carpentry staff and the latest building science research to build dramatically more efficient, healthy, and durable homes.
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