We Want Energy But We Need Water
Marla, The Green Home Coach and Tony Pratte hosts of The Green Gab both love the topic of Water Conservation and Water Efficiency. Water is our most precious non renewable natural resource. The effect of not having enough water is drought. Advancements have been made in the ability to monitor drought conditions and thus deepen our understanding of the impact they have on the environment. Drought monitoring plus performance based approach to water efficiency is bringing sustainable solutions to the mainstream!
This is really good news for a topic that quite frankly is in quite dire straits and lacking attention. We of course do not want to be all doom and gloom and will of course share with you how to be part of the solution. As Mike Collignon so pointedly reminds us for the last several decades the emphasis has been on energy conservation and efficiency. However, “we can live without energy but we will DIE without water.”
Drought Monitoring Plus Performance Based Approach to Water Efficiency
Today at The Green Gab Marla and Tony are gabbing with Mike Collignon, Executive Director of The Green Builder® Coalition which is a not-for-profit he started with Ron Jones in 2010 dedicated to supporting builders and suppliers drive advocacy, education and policy change for more sustainable home building practices.
They are expanding quickly in many states that have natural disasters. Their whole process is if you have a clean slate to start from why not go ahead and start the right way. They want people to recognize what’s going on and help. Little steps add up and if you get enough people doing little steps then that’s a big step. The multiplier step is real!
Serious World Drought Conditions
It is not just California and Africa! The Earth is experiencing drought and shrinking groundwater tables at a very rapid rate. “The situation is quite critical,” says Jay Famiglietti, senior water scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the studies’ principal investigator. Unfortunately, the rise and fall of lakes and streams give people a false sense about the replenishment of water and actually perpetuates complacency rather than efficient conservation. Mike reminds us of this important truth:
” You can not manage what you do not measure!”
The scientific and educational sectors have made huge strides in monitoring drought and groundwater reserves. Mike shares with us several resources accessible via the web that have complied the Earths drought conditions, monitor and update the database so that real time conditions are available to everyone. It is very exciting to have people like Mike take this message to the building industry through his work with the The Green Builder Coalition so that the building industry and the regulating bodies can adapt building code and building standards to reflect the changing conditions. It is a win – win for the building site and the structure being built. Not to mention the increased comfort, and safety, for the occupants of the structure.
Performance Based Approach to Water Efficiency
Water Efficiency is something that Mike is very involved with. Citing Oklahoma City’s Lake Hefner shrinking levels as an example “It is truly one thing to see pictures and for someone to tell you about it but it’s totally different when you see it with your own eyes” Mike explains. 70% of the earth is water but it’s all not drinkable water. In recent years it has become more valuable to think and talk about water in gallons saved rather than dollars because the industry is heavily subsidized.
The water industry is shifting its approach to a performance based efficiency much like the energy industry did long ago. Out of this shift, WERS was born. WERS is Water Efficiency Rating Score. This system was able to provide a solution for the Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association in 2016 that has enabled them to divert an industry from peril. It’s not just the indoor it’s the outdoor, from the trees, the grass, soil types, the plants, rain water so much goes into this.
Homeowner Water Efficiency Improvement Solutions
So if you are an existing homeowner and wanted to improve your water efficiency rating score what would you do? Indoors you can incorporate low flow faucets, ultra high efficiency toilets, low flow shower heads and add aerators to some of these fixtures. It is on the outdoor side where you get the greatest gains! There is much complexity in the outdoor portion with plants and landscape. Irrigation is where the big bang is and most people think it is too expensive or not necessary. However with innovations like drip irrigation and micro spray it just might be more attainable than imagined. Plus, the ROI on outside water conservation is huge. If irrigation is not a possibility for you then investigating methods and regulations for rainwater collection is going to be the best alternative combined with smart landscaping with native plants.
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