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California's Mandatory Green Building Code - Summer 2010

From California Connection - the official publication of PHCC of California, by Dave Walls, Executive Director, California Building Standards Commission

The California Building Standards Commission (CBSC) adopted CALGreen, the new 2010 California Green Building Standards Code in January of this year.  The first-in-the-nation statewide mandatory green building code, it goes into effect in January 2011.  This landmark code will achieve significant impacts in greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption, and water conservation for the state.

California will now require new buildings to reduce water consumption, utilize building commissioning to increase building system efficiencies, divert construction waste from landfills, and to install low pollutant-emitting materials.  These provisions establish the minimum of green construction practices and incorporate environmentally responsible buildings into the everyday fabric of California.

CALGreen has approximately 52 mandatory measures and an additional 130 measures that have been placed in the appendix for optional use.  Some key mandatory measures for commerical occupancies include specified parking for clean air vehicles, a 20 percent reduction of potable water use within buildings, a 50 percent construction waste diversion from landfills, use of building materials that emit low volatile organic compounds, and building commissioning. 

Other key components: a two-tiered system designed to allow jurisdictions to adopt codes that go beyond the state mandatory provisioins . . . and compliance verification will utilize the already existing building code enforcement infrastructure.  Like California's existing building code provisions that regulate all construction projects throughtout the state, the mandatory CALGreen code provisions will be inspected and vertified by local building departments.

The provisions in CALGreen set sensible minimum standards that all new sructures can meet to significantly minimize the state's overal carbon output. CALGreen is a vital fundamental step in mainstreaming green building design and a tremendous step toward the reduction in the carbon footprint buildings have on the environment in California.

Tankless Water Heaters - Spring 2010 

These days, more and more people are choosing tankless water heaters over traditional storage tank water heaters with good reason.  Tankless water heaters use gas or electricity to provide hot water on demand, reducing standby energy losses that cost you money.  Noritz Water Heater Group takes great pride in contributing efforts to preserve the global environment by recycling, conserving resources and curbing waste. Their environmental research has resulted in a breakthrough development of highly efficient gas burners that minimize emissions, preserving our environment for the future. In keeping with the 'green' trend, Noritz leads the tankless water heater industry with the development of a condensing unit. The latest in tankless technology, this innovation results in the most efficient natural gas tankless water heater on the market today, with over 93% efficiency. A Noritz tankless hot water heater is green because it saves you money and helps conserve energy.

In addition, tankless heaters typically last about twice as long as standard heaters. And numerous tankless heaters qualify for energy rebates and federal tax credits, saving you even more!

However, in order to meet manufacturer’s specifications, all tankless water heaters need to be professionally installed for optimal energy efficiency. With state-of-the art technology and an expert staff of plumbing specialists, we have the tools to undertake any job, big or small, residential or commercial. You will also find that our experience and relationships with manufacturers allow us to offer complete installations at unbeatable prices!

We start by a short visit to your home where we determine your demand, location, and application for hot water. We then customize a system designed to fit your lifestyle needs and budget. Your project will be supervised from consultation to cleanup to ensure your complete satisfaction.  

Pressure-Assist Toilets - Fall 2009

A new report confirms what Flushmate customers have known all along - the installation of pressure-assist toilets with Flushmate flushing systems can save thousands of dollars while significantly boosting overall water efficiency and reducing maintenance costs.

Koeller & Company and Veritec Consulting, inc., known for their independent research of residential and commercial flushing products, found that Flushmate pressure-assist systems made a significant impact on water usage at the Parc 55 Union Square Hotel in San Francisco.  Flushmate systems were installed as part of the hotel's program to replace aging fixtures.

In their report titled, "Evaluation of Water Use Reduction Achieved through Hotel Guest Room Toilet Fixture Replacement," Koeller and Veritec explain that the hotel began replacing all 1,030 of its 3.5 gallon-per-flush (GPF) gravity fed toilet fixtures in 2007, with project completion in late 2008.  They found that after the systems were replaced, monthly water consumption fell from 3.52 million gallons to 2.59 million gallons.

Food Waste Disposers - Spring 2009

Food waste disposers were invented nearly 80 years ago as a convenience for residential kitchens and cooks.  Since then, they have become a standard appliance in U.S. kitchens and more recently have found growing acceptance internationally for a perhaps unexpected reason:  concern about the environment.

Everything municipalities normally do with food waste is environmentally problematic: odors, bacteria, piled bags on sidewalks.  Decomposing in landfills, food waste produces acidic leachate (which can contaminate ground water) as well as methane (a potent greenhouse gas).

That's why sending food scraps through a disposer is a more environmentally friendly alternative.  Food waste makes up about 20 percent of residential waste.  While food waste is sent to landfills with other solid waste, it is mostly water (70 percent water and 30 percent solids). 

Currently about 41 percent of U.S. food waste goes to landfills.  However, because food waste is mostly liquid, it makes more sense to pulverize it in a disposer and send it through sewers to municipal wastewater treatment plants (or to septic systems).  And modern disposers can pulverize nearly 100 percent of food waste.  At treatment plants, solids are extracted from the waste water and can be treated so that the remaining biosolids can be recycled and applied as fertilizer to agricultural land.  Right now almost 60 percent of the sludge from U.S. wastewater plants is processed into biosolid fertilizer.

And finally, wastewater treatment plants can capture methane generated during treatment and recycle it as renewable power for the plant itself or for other facilities.