• States explore greywater ordinances
  • GA county won't hook up water to new customers without low-flow fixtures
  • GreenMech launches talk radio show
  • Rheem wins Best Sustainable Bath Award

  • A few states are exploring building ordinances that include greywater fixtures.

    In late June, Oregon state building code regulators considered passing new rules to allow homeowners to collect and use greywater - water used in sinks, showers or clothes washers - for flushing toilets. Current Oregon building codes allow homeowners to collect and reuse rainwater for these applications, but codes are murky when it comes to recycling greywater.

    Greywater reuse has been avoided by many states’ codes in applications that involve human contact, such as showers and sinks, due to health concerns over the water quality. Greywater is classified as nonpotable water, which isn’t suitable for drinking and may contain microbes or harmful chemicals.

    In Tucson, Ariz., a city advisory committee is pushing for all new homes to be outfitted with plumbing systems capable of delivering greywater from bathrooms, laundries and kitchens to outdoor landscaping.

    According to the Arizona Daily Star, the committee also wants the Tucson City Council to require developers of shopping centers and other commercial projects to harvest rainwater for at least 75 percent of what is used for trees, grass and shrubs.

    The proposed ordinance, which would take effect June 2010, is likely the first of its kind in the United States. Critics cite costs and development discouragement, and the fact that the new ordinance would ignore a much larger number of existing homes.

  • A Georgia county ordinance mandates the installation of water-conserving fixtures before new homeowners can obtain municipal water.

    Home sellers and buyers are scrambling to comply with the DeKalb County law that states, as of June 1, any home built before 1993 “must have low-flow toilet and plumbing fixtures installed before the new homeowner can obtain water from the county.”

     According to the ordinance, new homeowners must produce written proof from a home inspector, licensed plumber or a Department of Watershed inspector.

    Single-family homes and condos must meet the following standards: toilets can have a maximum of 1.6 gallons per flush; showerheads can put out a max of 2.5 gallons per minute; lavatory faucets can put out a maximum of 2 gallons per minute; and kitchen faucets can put out a maximum of 2.2 gallons per minute.

    The law has four exemptions. Penalties for violating the law include a warning for the first offense, $250 for the second offense and $500 for the third offense.

  • Innovative approaches to water and energy savings in the bath will be honored with a new Best Sustainable Bath Award category (formerly the Smartest Hot Water Award) in the 2009 National Kitchen & Bath Association Design Competition. The award is sponsored by Rheem Water Heating and recognizes the expanding array of sustainable solutions being applied in today’s new and remodeled bathrooms. The winner will receive a $5,000 award and be recognized at the NKBA Design Competition Awards ceremony during the 2009 Kitchen/Bath Industry Show in Atlanta, April 30-May 3, 2009.

  • The Green Mechanical Council recently announced “GreenMech Solutions,” a talk radio show on www.blogtalkradio.com every Tuesday at 3:00 p.m. EST. The show offers education, information and live chat via both Internet and phone calls.

    In other news, the council has added two new founding members - Zurn and Viega North America - and new manufacturer member Wilo USA. The group has also become an endorsing association for the 2009 AHR Expo, Jan. 26-28 in Chicago.

  • The Environmental Protection Agency released a WaterSense draft specification for water-efficient single-family new homes. Once the criteria are finalized, new homes that meet them can be certified and labeled under the WaterSense program. The WaterSense New Homes specification is designed to ensure not only sustainable, efficient water use but also a high level of performance satisfaction. WaterSense-labeled new homes will combine WaterSense-labeled products with other water-efficient fixtures and practices to reduce the amount of water used by approximately 20 percent.

    Homes must meet criteria in three areas: indoor water use, outdoor water use and homeowner education. Indoor plumbing, plumbing fixtures, appliances and other water-using equipment have to be water efficient. Outdoors the landscape design and any irrigation system have to be water efficient. Additionally, homeowners will be provided information on how to maintain a water-efficient home. Third-party inspectors will certify that homes meet all of the criteria before they will be given a WaterSense label.

    The EPA is inviting all interested parties to provide comments until July 21, 2008. To register, comment or get more information, visit www.epa.gov/watersense/specs/homes.htm.
  • W.A. Birdsall & Co. Linden, N.J., hosted a day dedicated to eco-friendly products this spring. Technical seminars were presented on solar heating, geothermal heating and cooling, R410A refrigerant certification for high-efficiency cooling, and installation of high-efficiency boilers and furnaces. Expositions and workshops were sponsored by Roth, Takagi, Rheem, Weil-McLain, Utica, Adams, Peerless, Multi-Aqua, Philco and Hydron.
  • Greenwood Technologies’ Aspen Series outdoor wood-fired furnace was designated as a qualified, low-emission wood boiler by the Environmental Protection Agency. The Aspen emits 8.4 grams of wood smoke emissions per hour, compared to the more than 70 grams per hour produced by a traditional wood boiler. The Aspen comes with an orange tag indicating that the appliance meets EPA Phase I emission standards of less than 0.60 pounds of emissions per million Btus of heat.  The qualified designation comes through the EPA Outdoor Wood-Fired Hydronic Heater Green Label program, a voluntary engagement for manufacturers. This EPA program is similar to the emissions standards program implemented for wood stoves in the late 1980s.
  • Warmboard radiant subfloor is currently being featured in the Smart Home: Green + Wired exhibit at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. The exhibit features a fully functioning, three-story modular and sustainable “green” home that showcases ways people can make eco-friendly living a part of their lives.
  • The Palazzo Las Vegas 50-story hotel-casino-shopping complex has been awarded Silver LEED certification by the U.S. Green Building Council, making it the world’s largest LEED-certified building. The $1.9 billion complex includes 3,000 suites, an 85,000-square.-foot department store, more than 80 shops, restaurants, a theater, spa, and Las Vegas’ first Lamborghini dealership. A wide array of energy-saving plumbing and heating technologies helped The Palazzo to earn its LEED rating, including: artificial turf, drip irrigation and moisture sensors in planted areas; swimming pools are heated with an expansive solar pool heating system; air-conditioning controls in guest suites that automatically set back by several degrees when guests are not present and reset to the desired temperature upon return; water-efficient showerheads, high-efficiency toilets and low-flow lavatory faucet aerators; moisture sensors monitor real time, site specific air temperature humidity, rainfall and other factors to provide daily watering cycle adjustment.