Easy Ways to Go Green is all about finding simple ways to save resources and conserve our environment. Recently, a post featured thoughts on how to improve your home’s sustainability through a variety of eco-friendly flooring options.
But another relatively easy way to reduce your impact on the earth is to start saving water that otherwise is wasted, as Noelle Hirsch writes about in this guest post.
The responsibility for implementing sustainable practices falls on both the homeowner and the construction company they contract. But the good news is that green building practices are quickly becoming mainstream.
Efficient Construction Management Could Be the Key to the Water Crisis
Freshwater is in dwindling supplies around the world, leading many to surmise that a “water crisis” will soon be upon us. Governments are looking for ways to improve infrastructures like dams and cisterns, though in many cases incentivizing conservation is just as effective.
Construction managers and building teams are typically at the forefront of the water conservation movement, at least in the United States. Designing homes and offices with dynamic water use systems can both use less water, and make better use of water that occurs naturally.
Access to fresh water is important to three main sectors: agriculture, industry, and individuals. The more water that is consumed by one sector, the less there is available for the others. This is even more concerning when it comes to agriculture, as food growth depends on plentiful water supplies.
Particularly in the West, the focus on water access in homes and commercial buildings may be short-changing agriculture, which can have profound effects on crop growth, food prices, and overall availability. “Current estimates indicate that we will not have enough water to feed ourselves in 25 years time, by when the current food crisis may turn into a perpetual crisis,” Science Daily speculated as early as 2008.
The need for water-conscious construction has perhaps never been higher.
There are a number of water-conservation steps that homeowners and individual businesses can take on their own. Retrofitting homes with energy-efficient appliances, rigging cisterns to office roofs to collect rain water, or investing in water reclamation systems for major industrial use can help reduce water waste—which can in turn lower bills.
When construction managers install these sorts of features from the start, however, the savings are even greater, both to individual owners and society at large.
So-called “green” construction companies are increasingly making it a habit to introduce energy and resource-saving measures into their construction designs. This often includes the use of energy-efficient appliances, as well as plumbing structures designed to cut back on waste.
“Choosing low flow toilets and water saving fixtures and appliances including faucet aerators can save a lot of water without sacrificing anything,” New Ground Construction, an environmentally conscious home builder, says on its site.
Water conservation does not usually stop with appliances, though. Water flow and runoff is also a big part of the process. The United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, program of green building certification has three different point categories for water conservation: water-efficient landscaping, innovative wastewater technologies, and water use reduction.
While homeowners and construction managers can often install water-reducing appliances at any time, strategizing efficient landscaping and waste removal systems must usually be built into the infrastructure.
Efficient air conditioning systems and plumbing pipes can shuttle usable wastewater, sometimes known as “gray water,” to outside aquifers for use in irrigation and landscape management. Buildings are often angled to maximize rainfall collection, incorporating sloped roofs and innovative gutter systems.
Water run-off from laundry, dishwashing, or other non-toxic facilities can be filtered on-site and reused, often for other industrial or outside purposes. The current trend of using what would otherwise be drinkable water to flush toilets and water lawns is, many speculate, quickly going out of style.
“The necessity for water efficient practices will become far more apparent as water and energy prices continue to fluctuate, leading to increased attention and focus on the mitigation of climate-related impacts and as water scarcity issues continue to plague certain parts of the U.S. and globe,” McGraw-Hill Construction Analytics said in a 2009 report.
That report, “Water Use in Buildings: Achieving Business Performance Benefits Through Efficiency,” looked both at ways the construction industry has been innovating, as well as likely future endeavors.
Water efficiency is increasingly becoming a part of new construction and renovation throughout the United States. Whether the goal is energy savings or global stewardship, saving water is always a step in the right direction.
As more and more buildings transition to efficient water systems, fresh water reservoirs may have the chance to fill again, making clean water more readily available to farmers and food producers. Saving just a little can go a long way, and can help shield a precious resource for many years to come.
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This has been a guest post by Nicole Hirsch for Easy Ways to Go Green. Noelle also writes for http://www.constructionmanagement.net/, a site about the higher education trends in construction management. Photo Via: mccarthy.com