Launch Slideshow

Illustration on How to Create Water Efficiencies in the Home

Illustration on How to Create Water Efficiencies in the Home

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    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)

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    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

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Greywater for toilet flushing has the potential to replace an estimated 7,000 gallons of city-supplied potable water per year for a house fitted with 1.6-gpf toilets, also reducing the burden on municipal supplies and management. “A homeowner effectively uses the water twice before it enters the sanitary system,” says Nord.

Recycled greywater also has been allowed for landscape irrigation under the UPC since the mid-1990s, but what’s collected usually must be used within 24 hours to mitigate potential health hazards, which has limited its use in that regard.

Available greywater can account for perhaps half of a typical home’s indoor water consumption, according to a 2010 white paper by the WateReuse Association. The paper reports that 7% of U.S. households in 2000—led by those in California, Texas, and Pennsylvania—were using some measure of greywater to offset municipal sources, a rate expected to increase to 10%, or more than 14 million households, by 2030. (See “Second Time Around,” page 45, for more on greywater.)

Stormwater Reuse. Similar to greywater, storm (or rain) water collection is regulated in terms of allowable household uses; not every jurisdiction allows it, but its generally “cleaner” sources—primarily a home’s roof and gutter system—make it far less restricted than greywater for landscape irrigation and other outdoor uses.

Generally, passive or non-pressurized catchments sold at retail outlets consist of 50-gallon barrels fed by the gutter system; a spout near the bottom accepts a garden hose to help supplement a potable water irrigation scheme.

But more sophisticated systems designed for meaningful water savings comprise underground cisterns, filters, and pumps to manage water drawn not only from gutters and downspouts but also the condensate from air conditioning units (perhaps 20,000 gallons a year alone)—in some cases to completely offset city-supplied water for outdoor use.

That’s the case in Richmond, Va., where Hollyport Ventures built the city’s first LEED-certified house, including a comprehensive rainwater collection and reuse plan anchored by a 1,400-gallon underground cistern that supports the toilets inside and all outdoor demand.