Green Industry Articles

Healthy Water and Home Values

A single faucet leak seems pretty innocuous.

But each drop contributes to the more than 1 trillion gallons of water that leaks from toilets, faucets and other plumbing fixtures in U.S. homes each year. So says the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

It's one reason EPA programs are addressing and advocating for wiser water usage. Two experts from the EPA offered a dual education session during the GRC's March webinar.

One focused on the National Lakes Assessment, a study of the condition of the various small water bodies around the US. The other provided an overview of the EPA's new WaterSense label for homes.

Anne Weinberg, communications coordinator with the Assessment and Watershed Protection division at the EPA discussed the importance of healthy lakes, ponds, rivers and shorelines. She also cited studies done in Maine and Minnesota that showed a direct connection between clean lakes and increased property values.

After all, people pay a premium for waterfront property because of the beauty, tranquility, and recreation that water amenities offer. When that water quality declines, so do home prices.

Protecting natural shorelines is crucial. When there's no natural shoreline, several things happen:

• There's no protection for fish and wildlife.

• Polluted runoff can enter the water.

• There's a growth of algae that affects aesthetics and recreation possibilities.

• Homeowners' waterway maintenance costs rise.

Real estate practitioners, Weinberg pointed out, can advise homeowners and developers on ways to protect shorelines through resources available from the EPA. A few basics:

• Reduce lawn sizes.

• Install native vegetation, especially right along the shore. Deep-rooted native trees and shrubs, for example, help to stabilize shorelines and provide a buffer against pollution, as well as improve habitats for fish and wildlife.

• Don't use pesticides for lawn and garden maintenance.

Visit their website to learn more about the EPA's efforts to protect waterways and ensure that drinking water is safe.

Water-smart houses

Alicia Marrs, coordinator for new homes partnerships and outreach, as well partner recognition for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) WaterSense® Program addressed the new WaterSense label for homes. It's similar to ENERGY STAR, but focuses on water.

The WaterSense guidelines are aimed at slashing water consumption and costs. According to the EPA, each American uses an average of 100 gallons of water each day. Given that a majority of states are anticipating water shortages and many are expecting a jump in population, smart water usage is becoming more critical.

Reducing water consumption can reduce stress on water infrastructure and delay the need to upgrade wastewater treatment facilities and avoid the costs associated with those projects.

Wiser resource use also saves costs associated with transporting and heating water. The EPA has teamed up with several builders to construct new homes that carry the WaterSense label. Each such house, according to the EPA, could save about 10,000 gallons of water per year and at least $100 per year on water and energy bills.

The properties employ several efficiency strategies, including hot water distribution systems that decrease the amount of time it takes for hot water to reach the faucet or shower. They also rely on highly efficient toilets, shower heads, and faucets.

The WaterSense label also addresses water-efficient landscaping and irrigation.

Before receiving the label, homes must be inspected to ensure they meet the EPA's water efficiency and performance criteria.
Owners of existing properties can benefit too. An array of water-efficient products that carry the WaterSense label can reduce water consumption and costs. The EPA offers a widget to calculate the savings associated with WaterSense products.

You can view the complete GRC webinar on the Webinars page in the Members section of our site.

Source: Green REsource Council Newsletter, March 2011