Members of the Plumbing Manufacturers Institute discovered at their spring meeting that this whole green building thing might be more complicated than advertised.

First, manufacturers have to deal with the multitude of green building standards issued by different groups. Then they have to figure out which products are genuinely green, and which ones are “greenwash.” Finally are the technology issues that have to be resolved in systems that contribute to sustainable buildings, such as greywater and rainwater harvesting.

“There are 60 green rating systems in the United States,” environmental consultantPaul Shahriaritold PMI members April 1 during the meeting in Newport Beach, Calif. “In the last 10 years, going green hasn’t gotten easier.”

To address this situation, PMI approved two action items:
  • PMI will monitor the water-efficiency efforts by all the groups that have issued standards or guidelines.

  • PMI will organize an industry forum to get all the groups on the same page.

    Making the green marketplace more difficult to navigate are the products advertised as environmentally friendly that really aren’t. Rather than being truly green, these products are greenwash.

    Perhaps most troubling, however, are the technology questions that must be answered in systems that contribute to sustainable construction. Greywater and rainwater harvesting systems can benefit the environment only if they are designed, installed and maintained properly.

    A number of complications can be resolved if people involved in different aspects of sustainable construction do a better job of talking with one another, Shahriari said. In concluding his presentation, he noted the winners of the next phase of the green revolution would be the companies that make being green easier for people.