It’s easy going green. Think about the following options for your plumbing company.

During this holiday season, rather than a white Christmas, I would like you to go green - and this should be a part of your future.

Some of you may not like the term “green.” You may think the term applies to disciples of Al Gore and the Hollywood crowd, or perhaps tree-hugging wacko environmentalists. Not that it is bad to like Al Gore, the Hollywood crowd, or tree-hugging wacko environmentalists. Heck, my baby brother is a tree-hugging wacko environmental attorney.

It also doesn’t mean having to drive a hybrid car. Although my son has had a Honda Civic hybrid for the past five years and it is a neat car. He laughs when gas prices go up.

Neither Al Gore nor the Hollywood types invented the term “green.” They just happen to praise the cause. You should, too.

I recently was asked when I “went green.” I thought it was a funny question, as if there was some epiphany that made me change my philosophies. My response was that I was an Eagle Scout, so I guess you could say that I went green when I was 11 and joined Boy Scouts.

Being “green” really means caring for your fellow man living on this planet, doing what is good for mankind and the Earth, keeping the environment clean, and not wasting our natural resources.

Easy Green Tips

You should be promoting yourself and your plumbing company as green. It is not difficult. There are so many small things that you can do that add up to big items. They may not seem like much, but in the long run, they will make a difference.

Let me give you a few ideas that are not always mentioned when you read about green and environmentally friendly alternatives.

  • Start insulating all hot- and cold-water piping. This has never been common practice in many buildings, especially single-family dwellings. Some of you have been insulating hot water piping for years, which is good. Keep doing that. This, of course, conserves energy by reducing heat loss from the piping.

    You may be asking, “Why insulate cold water? To keep the water cold?” No. Actually, it is because we are building much tighter construction. The tighter the building, the more humidity becomes your enemy, not your friend. If you don’t insulate the cold-water piping, it provides a location for humidity to condense (the cold water piping is colder on the outside wall than the surrounding air). Once you have condensed water, you have a location for mold growth. So, insulate both hot and cold water.

  • Throw out your lead pot. Those are fighting words in parts of the country. I live in one of those parts. Lead and oakum joints are not only commonplace in Chicago, they are the only permitted joints for cast iron installed aboveground. Furthermore, cast iron is required for commercial construction.

    Some of you still make an occasional lead joint, for example, at the connection to a shower base. All of these types of connections now can be made without lead. I was born and raised on lead joints. I remember warming my hands over the lead pot on cold winter days. However, in addition to a waste of energy and propane to heat the lead, it also is an environmental hazard.

    The studies don’t lie about the hazards of lead. When you start a lead pot, you are allowing lead into the atmosphere. That is bad. When you touch the lead, it seeps through the pores of skin. That is bad, too. So, throw out the lead pot.

  • Throw out your torches next. You no longer need to solder a copper joint. There are so many alternatives to soldering, it is easy to choose one. Whether it is press-connect, push-fit, grooved, flared or compression fittings, select one or more and run with them. All of these joining methods are excellent. The green aspect is that you don’t use acetylene and waste energy. You also don’t off-gas the fumes from fluxes and solder.

  • Stop removing flow restrictors. For that matter, go back to the jobs where you removed flow restrictors and put them back in. A lot of wasted water is from installations where the flow restrictors were removed to make the installation “better.” Well, there is nothing better about wasting water.

    You also can start thinking about installing aerators with a lower flow rate. I installed a 1-gpm aerator in my master bath lavatory about 10 years ago. I have not missed the extra 1.2 gpm that I would get out of a standard aerator. When I am on the road, I never open the faucet full force since I have gotten so used to the 1-gpm aerator.

  • Think about switching to silver-impregnated aerators. These cost a little more, but they are much healthier for your customer. I have written in the past about the wonders of silver. Some manufacturers are switching the touching surfaces of their faucets and flush valves to silver-impregnated material. Think about using these products, as well.

    As you can see, going green is easy. There are different degrees as to how far you want to go. But your customers will appreciate that you, as a company, are thinking green. You also will find that most of your customers will not mind paying a few dollars more for green products.

    Remember that being green means to recycle, reuse, conserve energy, conserve water, protect the environment, and save the planet. What often is missed is that it also means safety to the public, and that would include better health.

    By definition, every plumbing contractor already is green because of what he does to protect the water and provide proper sanitation. Do the small things to improve your image as a green contractor. Also, look at the big picture and think of the other green options available.

    Have yourself a very green and Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas, and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.