A roundup of what the construction industry -- and the plumbing and heating industry in particular -- is doing to make homes and buildings more eco-friendly.

  • The Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH) is offering builders and remodelers a roadmap with its PATH Guide to Green Building, which pulls together the essential principles of quality green practices in a comprehensive, easy-to-follow plan.

    The guide outlines five green principles that, with homeowner education, comprise the key to effective green building: 1) resource and waste management; 2) energy-efficient system integration; 3) resource-efficient plumbing; 4) good indoor air quality; and 5) low-impact development.
    To download the guide, visit PATH online at www.pathnet.org.


  • Last month at the International Builders’ show, the National Association of Home Builders launched the NAHB National Green Building Program. It features an online scoring tool at www.nahbgreen.org, which shows how to accrue points in seven categories: water, energy and resource efficiency; lot and site development; indoor environmental quality; global impact; and homeowner education. The program sets point requirements in each category for the bronze, silver and gold levels.

    Homes are inspected and verified by local green experts and the documentation is sent to the NAHB Research Center for review. If the project qualifies, the home can receive national certification from the Research Center.


  • The Water Environment Research Foundation recently unveiled a new Web site, www.werf.org/livablecommunities, that gives landscape architects, designers, engineers, stormwater managers, elected officials and the public creative new ideas on sustainable stormwater practices. The site provides practical tools, frameworks for implementation and planning aids that can be adapted to any community or project.


  • A series of live green building webinars will be presented by the Mechanical Contractors Association of America in 2008 to help members compete in this expanding new market. A copy of each presentation will be archived for viewing after the presentation at www.greencontractors.us. The first live webinar will take place March 27, and will feature Jerry Yudelson, who will lead a session during MCAA 2008 on “Branding and Positioning Your Green Building Offering.” For more information or to sign up for the green webinar series, contact Sean McGuire at smcguire@mcaa.org.


  • HVAC Excellence and Ferris State University have teamed up to address the “green” educational needs of the HVACR industry. The first section of the program, “Green Mechanical Awareness,” was pilot-tested at the UA’s annual instructors’ workshop and through workforce development in Louisiana. The first technical module, “Combustion Analysis,” has been completed and covers the maximization of furnace and boiler energy efficiency.


    The program has been adopted by the UA, the Green Mechanical Council, the Carbon Monoxide Safety Association, and the AC&R Safety Coalition for use in their educational programs. Contact HVAC Excellence at 800/394-5268, or Ferris State University at 866/880-7674 for further information.

  • The third issue of idronics, Caleffi’s semi-annual design journal for hydronic professionals, was released in January and focuses on solar heating technology. The publication is written by engineers and oriented towards innovative design techniques. “What’s New Under The Sun?” begins with a primer on solar heating fundamentals, then presents a wide spectrum of design concepts and hardware options for solar water heating and space heating. Download a free copy at www.caleffi.us.



  • The Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing Concept Home Omaha was purchased by first-time homebuyers Howard and Marcella Dial and their family. The Dials purchased the house after qualifying for financial assistance through the City of Omaha and HUD’s HOME Program, as well as $1,000 from the Nebraska Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

    The Concept Home was designed for flexibility (easy to update and expand for different life stages, new owners or the latest technological innovations); efficiency (easy to build and easy to live in) and sustainability (featuring green, energy-efficient products, systems and materials). The Concept Home meets Energy Star, Environments For Living and LEED for Homes criteria.


  • The Mechanical Contracting Education & Research Foundation and the U.S. Green Building Council will work cooperatively on a study, “Identifying Key Design, Construction and Operation Variables Affecting Energy Performance in LEED Certified Buildings.” MCERF will provide up to $75,000 in funding for this project. LEED-certified buildings have demonstrated significantly lower energy use than their counterparts, but a statistically high variance in energy use exists in a sample group, even within similar building types. The MCERF/USGBC study will review the design, construction, operations practices and strategies of the best and worst energy performers in this sample. MCERF and the USGBC will develop detailed case studies on at least six of the buildings to provide specific examples of why energy performance differs so broadly.

    A protocol for screening buildings will be developed and implemented during the study to identify underlying variables influencing performance. A narrative report and educational presentation highlighting the findings of the project analysis and illustrative case studies will result.


  • EMCOR Group recently announced that a project recently completed for Greentree Landfill Gas Co. has been named the “2007 Project of the Year” by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program.  

    The project at the Greentree landfill site in Kersey, Pa., converts landfill gas into pipeline-quality natural gas, which is then used to produce environmentally clean electric power while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It is one of the largest such projects in the country. EMCOR Energy Services designed and constructed the gas compression and cleaning facility, an eight-mile pipeline and a blending and compression station at the connection to National Fuel Gas Co.’s interstate pipeline.


  • A new report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates $202.5 billion is the nationwide capital investment needed to control wastewater pollution for up to a 20-year period. The 2004 Clean Watersheds Needs Survey summarizes the results of the agency’s 14th national survey on the needs of publicly owned wastewater treatment works. The estimate includes $134.4 billion for wastewater treatment and collection systems, $54.8 billion for combined sewer overflow corrections, and $9.0 billion for stormwater management.

    The figures represent documented wastewater investment needs, but do not account for expected investment and revenues. The needs in this survey represent a $16.1 billion (8.6 percent) increase (in constant 2004 dollars) over the 2000 report. The increase in overall national needs is due to a combination of population growth, more protective water quality standards, and aging infrastructure.


  • Geberit’s “Sustainability Report 2007” presents an overview of Geberit’s objective of a sustained improvement in the quality of people’s lives through plumbing technology.

    CEO Albert M. Baehny says in this report that economic success, acting in an environmentally friendly manner and social balance, are not a contradiction in terms. In fact, sustainability and social responsibility are closely interrelated.

    In related news, Geberit North America has become a member of the EPA WaterSense program. In conjunction to becoming an active partner of WaterSense, the company will incorporate WaterSense communication products to its customers as part of its corporate commitment to environmental stewardship. In this effort, Geberit plans to cooperate with interior designers, architects and contractors to get the message to corporations that plumbing systems can save water.


  • Watts Water Technologies announced its membership in the United States Green Building Council. The company wished to demonstrate its ongoing commitment to supporting green building initiatives, and working with architects and engineers to earn LEED credits.

    Chicago Faucets also has joined the USGBC. Much of Chicago Faucets’ product line is committed to water conservation and incorporates low-flow aerators, adjustable metering cartridges sensor operated faucets.


  • IAPMO Research and Testing has completed certification testing on five Vortens products. The results qualify the five high-efficiency toilets (HETs) to receive WaterSense designations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

    Vortens’ products receiving the WaterSense designation in October 2007 include: 1) Tornado ADA (pressure-assist elongated HET with 1 gpf/4 lpf); 2)  Tornado (pressure-assist elongated HET with 1 gpf/4 lpf); 3) Delfos (one-piece dual-flush elongated HET with 1.6 gpf/6 lpf and 1.1 gpf/4 lpf); 4) Rhodas DF (dual-flush elongated HET with 1.6 gpf/6 lpf and 1.1 gpf/4 lpf); and 5) Dali (dual-flush elongated HET with 1.6 gpf/6 lpf and 1.1 gpf/4 lpf).

    In other news, IAPMO R&T recognized Neoperl as the first manufacturer to be independently certified to meet the U.S. EPA WaterSense criteria for lavatory faucets.


  • The City of Milwaukee recognized Starline, a foundry of Chicago Faucets, for its commitment to environmental performance and implementation efforts toward conservation regulations.

    The city regularly checks regional companies to see if they are adhering to ecological wastewater guidelines as part of their responsibility to water quality on Lake Michigan. To ensure no chemicals enter the wastewater, Starline stores all dangerous substances in double-walled containers.


  • Johnson Controls has pledged to reduce its total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions intensity per dollar of revenue by 30 percent from 2002 to 2012. The company has committed to the reduction goal as part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Leaders program, which Johnson Controls joined in 2003.

    Climate Leaders is an EPA industry-government partnership that works with companies to develop comprehensive climate change strategies. Partner companies commit to reducing their impact on the global environment by completing a corporatewide inventory of their greenhouse gas emissions based on a quality management system, setting aggressive reduction goals and annually reporting their progress to the EPA. Through program participation, companies create credible records of their accomplishments and receive EPA recognition as corporate environmental leaders.

    Johnson Controls plans to achieve this reduction goal through a comprehensive action plan that institutes energy-efficiency solutions in the company’s U.S. plants and facilities, processes and fleet. Through the EPA audit process, Johnson Controls has verified that it has already made good progress towards achieving this aggressive GHG reduction goal by 2012.


  • The Plumbing Manufacturers Institute has entered into a partnership agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program. As a partner, PMI will support the goals of the EPA WaterSense program, as well as promote the value of using water resources more efficiently and the value of using WaterSense-labeled products and programs. Through this agreement, PMI will be recognized for its involvement in the program and its role in protecting the environment.

    Barbara C. Higgens, executive director of PMI, will serve as the authorized partner representative and Shawn Martin, technical director of PMI will serve as the primary contact.


  • Sammamish Commons, in the state of Washington, has become the first project to earn a LEED point for the use of germicidal ultraviolet or UVC lights in the air handling units. Notkin Mechanical Engineers (Seattle), mechanical engineer for the project, applied for and received the Innovation in Design LEED credit from the U.S. Green Building Council. The project utilizes UVC Emitters manufactured by Steril-Aire Inc. downstream of the cooling coils to improve indoor air quality and reduce energy and maintenance costs.