Thursday, 13 March 2008

green plumbing -- copper v. plastic

today's big house decision centers around plumbing. a 103 year-old lead pipe carries all the water into my house. i had most of the internal stuff changed because it was leaking like banshee and creating all that horrible mold in the basement. i have the option now to change the decrepit iron pipe. since there is nothing in the basement and the wall is removed it is the easiest of all times. it will mean digging a monster huge hole in the front yard so that matt the plumber can get to the main pipe. so decision #1, should i change it at all. he is estimating about $1800 to change it.

decision #2: this is only a decision if i decide to change it.
what do i replace the lead with? i can use copper or black plastic piping. i have looked briefly on the internet to see if their is much of a difference. i can't figure it out. do any of you out there know anything about piping? i do know that plastic will save me about $300.


for more on "green plumbing" i did find this:
if you are reading this from arizona, utah, or anywhere else out special attention

Green Plumbing for LEED Homes

Posted May 3rd, 2007 by Craig Woolheater

United States Green Building Council LEED logoGreen Plumbing is a term that you will be hearing much more of very soon.

Innerline Plumbing is starting a large-scale single-family home project in the Dallas Fort Worth area that will be LEED certified.

These homes will use high-efficiency plumbing fixtures and design to be much more conservative in water use, and to the environment.

Stay tuned here for more details soon…

Advances in plumbing technology help builders add LEED points

Whether you call it smart plumbing, green plumbing or plumbing biospherics, the concept is the same: the reduction of water use through resourceful landscaping, wastewater technology and high-efficiency plumbing design.

If you are applying for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for your building, such environmentally friendly plumbing could help you meet requirements in several point categories, including materials and resources, energy and atmosphere, water efficiency, sustainability and innovation in design.

Even if you aren’t seeking LEED certification, here are six ideas that are worth considering because they go a long way in protecting our natural resources.

1. Water efficiency

The goal of water efficient plumbing is to reduce potable water use, thereby putting less of a pull on the Edwards Aquifer system. The current LEED reference guide allows points for a 20 percent reduction in time of each use for automatic motion-control or metering sensors on lavatory and sink faucets. A second point is allowed for a 30 percent reduction.

At the very least, fit all sink and lavatory faucets and showers with water restricting aerators.

Go one step further by replacing your plumbing fixtures with low flow and ultra-low flow versions. Most low-flow faucets limit flow to 1.8 gallons per minute, meeting the base design requirements for LEED (2.5 gallons per minute). Others use sensors to limit the amount of time the water runs, resulting in tremendous water savings up to 70 percent less than manual faucets. By shutting off during the lather cycle of 20 seconds (according to U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s recommended hand-washing procedures), sensor-operated faucets can save as much as a gallon of water each use.

You can also increase water efficiency by looking at how you irrigate. Using drip hoses or sprinkler systems that are automatically timed and programmed to turn on or off based on ground soil moisture also contribute to a reduction in water use.

2. Waste removal

Nobody really wants to talk about it, but how we get rid of waste is a big — well — water waster. Instead, use a low-flow (using 1.2 gallons per flush) and ultra-low flow (0.8 gallons per flush) toilet. Or choose a dual-flush toilet that has two levers — one for urine (one gallon per flush) and one for solid waste (1.6 gallons).

If you’re feeling really brave, try a waterless system such as a non-water urinal. Such systems are gaining in popularity around the world — from California elementary schools and football facilities to the Taj Mahal and South Pole. Just this year, two such systems won the 2006 Award for Design Excellence with their sleek, efficient design.

A water-free urinal uses a cartridge that eliminates odor and the need for water. Inside the cartridge, the chamber retains a small amount of liquid waste while the rest drains down the sewer. A lighter-than-water sealant floats on top of the trapped waste, creating an airtight barrier and keeping odor from escaping. When urine is added, it passes through the sealant, displacing the waste already there. The sealant then emulsifies to recreate the barrier. There is no flushing.

Last March, Randy Goble, director of marketing communications at Falcon WaterFree Technologies of Grand Rapids, Mich., told Wired magazine that if just 10 percent of flush urinals were converted, some 200 billion gallons of water would be saved each year.

3. Water collection

Storm water capture, storage and use systems collect rainwater and reuse it in the building’s non-potable water fixtures, such as landscape, toilets and fire suppression storage. However, because the system requires two plumbing systems, it is best suited for new construction in areas where rainfall is substantial.

4. Water heating systems

Texas’ sunny, dry climate is good news, however, for solar water heating.
Nationwide, heating water uses up approximately 18 percent of energy used in homes and 4 percent in commercial buildings. An alternative is a solar water heating system, which uses the sun’s energy rather than electricity or gas to heat water. Such systems have been shown to provide up to 80 percent of the hot water needs. Newer systems are being developed that use bio-diesel fuels and wind.

On demand systems can also help meet requirements for reduction in water use through the installation of hot water recirculation systems that reduce the amount of water wasted down the drain while you are waiting for hot water to reach the fixture.

Sustainable systems

Building sustainability and indoor environmental quality equate to 45 percent of LEED credits. Epoxy pipelining may well qualify as the case can be made that its technology adds life (as much as 50 years) to an existing pipe system, reduces landfill debris, increases the sustainability of the building and improves water quality.

Based on research developed by the U.S. Department of Defense after several Naval facilities had to be closed because of poor water quality, epoxy pipelining entered the mainstream. Using an advanced mixture of polymers (or large molecules) that form a product that is harder than most metal when combined, epoxy adheres to surfaces and bonds in such a way that it keeps contaminants from building up and breaking through the protective barrier it forms. As such, pipe leaks are fixed and future corrosion stopped.

Conserving other energies

There are ways plumbing can contribute to the overall efficiency of green buildings by using water to conserve energy in other areas. The most common is designing a plumbing system for green roofs. In Texas, such irrigation systems are critical in the early stages of growth or if you aren’t going to use drought-resistant plants. Design options help keep water on the roof through restricted drain systems or utilize grey water or purple pipe systems for irrigation, as a couple of examples. In turn, green roofs help conserve energy as well as reduce storm water runoff and the urban heat island effect.

We consume some $4 billion a year in energy costs associated with pumping, treating, delivering, collecting and cleaning water. Doesn’t it make sense to slow down our use? Widespread adoption may mean that next year we can continue to water our lawns through the summer.

But more important than green grass is the ability to design “whole building” plumbing systems that preserve, protect and respect our environment.


greenfrog said...

Doesn't lead cause insanity?

Between plastic and copper, I'd probably do copper, because you can know that it doesn't degrade over decades into interesting polymers and petro-chemicals, and I wouldn't be as confident about plastic.

But I probably drank water from too many lead pipes as a kid to have reliable ideas.

Jason Strong said...

I don't know much about this kind of stuff, so I'm glad I found this. I've been trying to do some plumbing in my home, but have been really struggling. After doing some research and finding posts like this, I have better understanding of what I'm supposed to do. Thanks so much for sharing this.

Jason |