Experts from around the world offer perspectives on water efficiency and “GREEN” building.

In the United States, water shortages are expected in 36 states, according to John Flowers, water efficiency program manager, Office of Water Management, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. And in Australia, described as the driest inhabited country on earth by Dr. Steve Cummings, manager, research and design at Australian company, Caroma Industries Ltd., the federal government and all of the states have approved a mandatory water efficiency labeling and standards program.

These were among the facts and findings shared at the Plumbing Manufacturers Institute’s Fall Meeting Oct. 8-11 in Washington, D.C. Part I of our coverage was published in December 2006SUPPLY HOUSE TIMES. Here are more of the highlights:

John Flowers, U.S. EPA : Water shortages are expected in 36 states.

JOHN FLOWERS, water efficiency program manager, Office of Water Management, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA is working to implement WaterSense, a long-term effort to improve the way water-efficient products are valued, provided, used or chosen by the market in a permanent and measurable way. The stated goal of the WaterSense program is to reduce water and wastewater infrastructure costs and conserve water resources.

Through cooperative partnerships, WaterSense will help get water-efficient products into the market and onto the shelves of suppliers. It will strive for a push-pull effect, encouraging the industry to develop more products while creating demand for those products among consumers. Products labeled through WaterSense will be promoted through partnerships with utilities, manufacturers and retailers. For 2007 the focus will be on irrigation controllers and faucets. In 2008, the program may look at irrigation moisture sensors, commercial toilets, faucets and faucet sensors.

WaterSense will also develop a voluntary water-efficient new home specification. New homes were targeted for this effort because as many as 14 million new single-family homes will be needed by 2015, with most of the growth in the South and West. Homes with high-efficiency fixtures and appliances, manifold/parallel plumbing lines to the water heater and plumbing designed to allow for greywater use, along with water-efficient landscaping and irrigation controllers, can save 30% or more in water use.

Dr. Steve Cummings, Caroma Industries: A mandatory water-efficiency labeling and standards program focusing on seven products has been approved in Australia.

DR. STEVE CUMMINGS, manager, research and design, Caroma Industries Ltd., Australia

Australia is the driest inhabited country on earth. All capital cities have water restrictions. In Sydney, dam levels are falling steadily. About 80% of the population lives along the coast. Household water use has been reduced by 22% since the 1990s, but daily per capita water usage is still among the highest in the world.

The best options for water conservation are recycling and desalination. The price of water is expected to increase by 50% to 100%.

The Australian federal government and all of the states have approved a mandatory water-efficiency labeling and standards program.  Its goal is to reduce household water usage. It was adopted in July 2006 and becomes effective in January 2007. It will cut household water usage by an estimated 5% by 2021.

Australia now has a one- to six-star rating for water efficiency; every product is to be rated. A product rated zero stars does not meet the basic standard and is not water efficient.

Seven products have to be labeled for water efficiency: washing machines, dishwashers, flow controllers, toilet equipment, showers, faucet equipment and urinal equipment.

Retailers are responsible for putting labels on the products and they will be fined if they have a product on display without a label.

Clark Ellis


Clark Ellis and John Doherty, both principals with FMI Corp., consultant to the construction industry, discussed “urban infill,” its targeted market and ramifications for suppliers at the PMI Fall Meeting.

The term refers to the development or redevelopment of underutilized land and buildings in either urban or first-generation suburban locations. It is typically characterized by higher density housing and can include residential only or mixed-use development. 

The primary customer groups for urban infill/high-density developments are downsizing baby boomers in the 55 to 65 age range, first-time home buyers in the 25 to 35 age range, and upwardly mobile ethnic communities, Doherty said.

John Doherty

Builders who work on these types of projects will have to move away from standard designs, implement different material purchasing strategies, require different logistics and delivery support and will need longer lead times, Ellis said.

Manufacturers of building products who actively partner with builders and establish strong, supportive relationships with both existing trade contractors who are moving into urban projects and commercial contractors will increase sales and enhance their competitive position, Ellis said. There may be potential for the manufacturer to work with the installer.