The planet is facing an unprecedented crisis. Water is essential to life, yet over 770 million people in the world lack access to it. Access to safe water can protect and save lives which is why we need to conserve it. The Earth might seem like it has abundant water, but in fact less than 1 percent is available for human use.
Water Usage and Scarcity
According to the EPA, water plays a big role in supporting our communities. Without water there would be no local business or industry. Firefighting, municipal parks, and public swimming pools all need lots of water. An array of pipes, canals, and pumping stations managed by our public water systems are needed to bring a reliable supply of water to our taps each day.
In the US, we are lucky to have easy access to some of the safest treated water in the worldjust by turning on the tap. We wake up in the morning, take a shower, brush our teeth, grab a cup of coffee, and head out for the day. Water is an important part of our daily life and we use it for a wide variety of purposes, but do we really understand how much we use?
According to the EPA, the average American family uses more than 300 gallons of water per day at home. Roughly 70 percent of this use occurs indoors. Nationally, outdoor water use accounts for 30 percent of household use yet can be much higher in drier parts of the country and in more water-intensive landscapes. For example, the arid West has some of the highest per capita residential water use because of landscape irrigation.
LEED and Building Product Manufacturers
The LEED Water Efficiency (WE) section addresses water holistically, looking at indoor use, outdoor use, specialized uses, and metering. The section is based on an “efficiency first” approach to water conservation. Designers and builders can construct green buildings that use significantly less water than conventional construction by incorporating native landscapes that eliminate the need for irrigation, installing water- efficient fixtures, and reusing wastewater for non-potable water needs.
The LEED WE category comprises three major components: indoor water (used by fixtures, appliances, and processes, such as cooling), irrigation water, and water metering. Several kinds of documentation span these components, depending on the project’s specific water-saving strategies.
A major component of the LEED v4.1 BD+C Indoor Water Use Reduction Prerequisite, is the WaterSense Label. The WaterSense label was developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to identify these efficient fixtures and ensure that higher efficiency does not come at the cost of performance. The WaterSense label has been incorporated as a requirement for this credit to ensure that fixtures in a LEED building are both water efficient and high performing.
WaterSense partners with manufacturers, retailers and distributors, homebuilders, irrigation professionals, and utilities to bring WaterSense to communities. The partnerships encourage innovation in manufacturing and support sustainable jobs for American workers.
Resources For Manufacturers To Get Specified
Plumbing fixture manufacturers should have WaterSense Lables for their toilets, urinals, faucets, and showerheads. WaterSense has been an industry standard and LEED requirement for many years so this is nothing new for manufacturers. Specifiers will need fixture cutsheets or manufacturers’ information for all fixtures and appliances. The fixture data must highlight the flush or flow rates. A plumbing fixture schedule is acceptable, provided it contains the flush or flow rate information.
One of the most significant factors differentiating plumbing fixtures for LEED v4.1 from previous versions are the additional points now available to project teams. Plumbing fixture manufacturers who have third party verified Health Product Declarations (HPDs) and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) can now contribute additional points.
The Health Product Declaration (HPD) provides a standardized way of reporting the material contents of building products, and the health effects associated with these materials. Perkins + Will, Smith Group JJR, HKS, ZGF and other significant AEC firms encourage building product manufacturers to provide HPDs in order to be considered for product specification. Manufacturers who provide HPDs will be given preference over manufacturers that don’t comply with these requests.
In addition, plumbing fixture manufacturers can contribute LEED points by fulfilling other LEED requirements for the Sourcing of Raw Materials credit. They include: Extended producer responsibility (EPR), materials reuse, and recycled content. Third party consultants can help plumbing fixture manufacturers meet the LEED requirements by creating the mandated documentation.
Finally, plumbing fixture manufacturers can increase their specification opportunities by offering continuing education for LEED professionals. Manufacturers that host free online LEED courses, webinars, and face to face events increase their chances of getting specified for a LEED project. Overall, manufacturers can increase their specification goals by investing in testing, certifications, declarations, and education and outreach.