Green Building – A Look at Water Efficiency

The green building revolution is often touted with a focus on two subjects – energy efficiency and reduced emissions. While both are obviously important, the issue of water efficiency is one that should not be pushed building design

What is the greatest threat to our way of life in the next 100 years? The idea of oil depletion is certainly a concern. In synchronicity with this is the idea of climate change radically changing the planet. Both of these ideas have a certain glamour to them, if horrifically so, and garner the most media attention. There is, however, another problem that we are facing even now that gets little attention – water shortages. Cities such as Atlanta, San Diego and a host of others all are suffering through such shortages to one extent or another.

How much water do you think you use in a day? 5 gallons? 10 gallons? 50? Not even close. If you are like the average American, you use a whopping 100 gallons a day. That is the equivalent of over 1,500 glasses of water each day! That’s a lot of water. The demand has also put a huge strain on our current water supplies. One need look no further than the mighty Colorado River which is so overused that it no longer makes it the Pacific Ocean anymore.

Water usage is becoming a huge issue across the country and the globe. There are many federal and state issues involved, but green building advocates take a different approach. The basic idea is to label and support products that improve water efficiency in the home. The EPA has joined in and given the program the name “WaterSense”.

Products that come with the WaterSense label are similar to those with the Energy Star label. They represent a high level of efficiency, with water use replacing energy use. The primary focus is on the two biggest wasters – toilets and faucets. WaterSense compliant products work on low flow concepts and can save as much as 18,000 gallons of water use in the average home each year.

More than a few people feel that small changes in the household really don’t help that much when it comes to saving energy. In the case of water efficiency, this simply isn’t true. We waste so much water each day that even small changes can save huge amounts of this resource that is under so much pressure. This is why water efficiency and the WaterSense program have become an accepted part of green building.

Source: H2O Report

Solar geysers and solar panels are becoming a common sight in South Africa. There are lodges and boutique hotels in the Hazyview/White River/Nelspruit area who have embraced solar energy.  However, water efficient building designs are not very common yet.  Water issues are commonly discussed and are hot topics but knowledge and implementation of water efficient designs is surprisingly limited.  There are buildings with enormous roof surface areas that would be perfect for rainwater harvesting. Lodges and the hospitality industry in Mpumalanga would benefit from greywater recycling and second movement systems; daily laundry alone consumes vast quantities of clean water.  Lodges portraying a green image is good for business (not to mention the benefits to the environment) and they can reduce their municipality water bills.  Households can use all their laundry, kitchen, bath and shower water to irrigate gardens thereby increasing water efficiency without big changes in lifestyle and water use.  Water Rhapsody’s multi-flush toilet system is an inexpensive way to start saving water.  Water Rhapsody conservation systems are increasingly being incorporated into new green buildings and are also retrofitted to older buildings.  Water Rhapsody has incorporated Yes Solar so that we can assist you with energy efficiency- our solar energy solutions include Solsquare solar water geysers that qualify for Eskom rebates (our solar water heaters are installed by trained solar installers).  We are also JoJo Tanks dealers and supply the full range of JoJo water tanks and JoJo tank stands.  Water tanks are integral to our water systems and we can also offer high quality Atlas Plastics water tanks.  Our water tank prices are hard to beat in the Mpumalanga and Limpopo Lowveld.  Contact us for a free quote on a rainwater harvesting system, greywater system, solar geyser or water tank.

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