In green building, water efficiency has a beginning and no end. It affects:
- How storm water is managed on a construction site
- How moisture is directed away from foundations
- How rainwater is harvested from rooftops
- The plants you choose for landscaping and
- Your choice of appliances and fixtures like faucets and commodes
Water Control on Site
In most areas, it’s nearly impossible to finish a building project without being rained on. We create a drainage plan to keep your site as free of standing water as possible. We control stormwater drainage with straw bales or silt fences stabilized with stakes. This prevents topsoil from washing away and keeps sediment and pollution out of stormwater drains, lakes, and rivers.
Concrete washouts are another way to manage water. We create a special containment area where the rinse water from each truckload of concrete is contained and then disposed of properly. State and local governments impose heavy fines for allowing dirt and construction debris to wash away from a building site. We make sure that doesn't happen not only to avoid fines but also because we believe in protecting the environment on your site.
Gutters and Rainwater Harvesting
Gutters exist to carry water away from a home’s foundation, and now they’re actually required for Energy Star® 3.0 homes. Install gutter covers to keep out leaves and debris and make them virtually maintenance free.
Gutters are also the first step in harvesting rainwater. Up to 40% of household water is used to water lawns and plants in the summer, so collecting free rainwater for irrigation makes sense and saves money.
Rain barrels range in size from 50 to over 100 gallons and come in a variety of colors and styles. They’re relatively simple to install under a gutter downspout and typically dispense water using gravity. Regardless of size and type, all rainwater harvesting systems require a screening mechanism to keep out debris, insects, and even frogs.
Diverting grey water from your plumbing system is another way to reclaim and reuse water. Grey water is all the drain water from your house except that from toilets and garbage disposals. It’s often regulated by state or local health codes. We help you decide if a grey water system is a suitable and code compliant option for your new home. Since running separate plumbing for your grey water is the easiest way to reclaim, condition, and then reuse it, consider that option in the design phase of building.
Follow Xeriscaping® principles in your landscape design to conserve water and preserve topsoil. Seasonal rainfall helps determine how much additional water your landscape needs but so does lawn size and plant selection. Minimize open lawn area and choose plants native to the local climate.
Amend existing soil with organic matter to help it retain water and encourage healthy plants and microorganisms. Apply 3 to 4 inches of mulch in planting beds and on slopes to help retain moisture, slow weed growth, and prevent erosion and runoff. Use mulch from local or regional sources to decrease transportation costs and support your local economy. Use drip-irrigation or soaker hoses covered with mulch. These systems use 40% to 60% less water than conventional spray nozzle systems and are more efficient at delivering water where it is needed.
Commodes: Older commodes use about five gallons per flush – newer models only use 1.6 (or less). A low-flow model can prevent up to 4,000 gallons of water from going down the drain every year!
Faucets & Showerheads: Choose low-flow models that use 2.2 gallons of water at 60 pounds per square inch (psi) or less. Consider motion-activated faucets for an easy, hands-free way to minimize water consumption. All faucets manufactured in the United States since 1992 were/are required by the Federal Energy Policy Act to meet that flow rate. If you choose a faucet manufactured elsewhere, look for the gallons per minute rating on the package because some use 4 to 7 gallons per minute!
Dishwashers & Washing Machines: Check Energy Guide labels on dishwashers and washing machines. Some use much less water than others yet clean dishes and clothes just as well.
Recirculation Pumps: Decrease the amount of clean, cold water that goes down the drain while waiting for hot water to reach the faucet by choosing an efficient recirculation pump. Based on years of experience, we recommend the easy-to-use D’MAND system. See how it works here.