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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END GAME

If you’re still not convinced that significant water savings is not only achievable, but also marketable, at least consider that the bulk of the technology and tactics are available and affordable to incorporate into a green building protocol.

Saving water also enables homeowners to gain some power over big environmental issues. “Water is a resource that’s generally indigenous to a region. You have to use what’s there,” says Alicia Marrs, outreach coordinator for the EPA’s WaterSense program, in contrast to energy, which can be imported. “Homeowners who save water are being responsible for the sustainable growth of their communities.”

But the battle over saving water, and instilling its importance and impact on both builders and homeowners, remains in relative infancy. “Right now, and unlike energy, builders will generally do what’s required by code and not go beyond that,” says Nguyen, who is working to add the WaterSense standards to Cobb County’s building code given her area’s limited access to new water sources. “But it’s just as important, and maybe more so. I mean, we can’t live without water.”

Rich Binsacca is a contributing editor for EcoHome.