Eco-friendly construction has been an area of constant development and innovation over the past 40 years. Few areas have received as much attention in this field as the humble bathroom.
Residential and commercial bathrooms are responsible for a staggering amount of water consumption. So it’s little wonder that businesses and residents see the huge saving potential that eco-friendly plumbing solutions present.
What’s the current state of eco-friendly plumbing, and where will it be in five years?
People love doing their bit for the environment as much as they love saving money. Thankfully, eco-friendly materials and building practices can do both.
From green roofs, living walls, passive solar design, photovoltaics, recycled insulation and thermal heat storage, the scope of the green building movement is diverse and impressive.
Energy-efficient, recycled and naturally produced materials can transform the electricity and water usage of a structure. Considering Australia’s toilets use a quarter of the total water used in the family home each day, even small improvements in plumbing can equate to big savings year on year.
Let’s explore some of the current innovations in eco-friendly plumbing.
The primary focus of modern plumbing alternatives is to conserve water. Dual plumbing systems (also known as dual piping) do this by separating water into two types; potable and reclaimed.
Potable water can be used for drinking and washing, while reclaimed water is used for irrigation and toilet flushing. Why ‘reclaimed’? The water that was once sewage is treated to remove waste and dangerous bacteria, making it suitable for landscape use.
A similar yet cheaper alternative to dual plumbing systems is one that uses greywater. Reclaiming and repurposing water that is flushed down drains when you have a shower, wash the dishes or do the laundry can substantially reduce a household’s water usage.
The idea of a composting toilet can turn a lot of people off. However, repurposing human waste can save water on both irrigation and flushing.
Today’s composting toilets are often fitted with pumps directing liquids to electronic vents to stop smells. On the more extreme end of the market is the Flame 800, an incinerating toilet that converts waste into ashes for fertilising.
While human waste fertilisers may sound off-putting, it’s proven to be a highly effective and economical practice. Joe Jenkins, author of The Humanure Handbook, says composting human waste has the potential to both improve the health of communities without flush toilets and revolutionise how food producers fertilise.
Jenkins has designed what he calls the Loveable Loo, and has travelled to developing nations to demonstrate how to build the composting toilet. Its simple design minimises the risk of open-air bathrooms endangering public health in developing nations.
It’s unlikely that automatic faucets, waterless urinals, thermostatic mixing valves, solar-powered flushing, and even incinerating toilets will be forgotten as fads in the next five years.
The future of eco-friendly plumbing is squarely focussed on saving the environment, improving comfort and hygiene and saving residents and businesses money at the end of the day.
According to a survey of material retailers, over 90% already included eco-friendly products in their plumbing ranges. Much like estimating software has transformed the way builders do business, these ‘green’ products have changed how residential and commercial plumbers operate.
For a detailed look into the current state of eco-friendly construction, download your free copy of our eBook, ‘12 Tips to Building Eco-Friendly Commercial Property’ below:By Jason Hook
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