2011 will bring the implementation of new “CalGreen” regulations in California. These regulations are designed to improve energy and water efficiency, materials conservation and environmental quality in residential and commercial buildings.
In regards to water, CalGreen is aiming to reduce water consumption by 20% in buildings. My understanding is that this can be accomplished in one of two ways. Either through the use of low flow products (1.28gpf toilets, 2.o gpf shower heads, 1.8 gpm kitchen faucets and 1.5 gpm lavatory faucets) or through a performance approach as described in the regulations.
We have been selling 1.28 gpm toilets for well over a year and have actually been pretty impressed with many models by both Toto and American Standard. Toto’s “double cyclone” flushing system is designed to create a cyclonic wash in the bowl for a cleaner result. The American Standard Champion and Cadet 3 flushing systems have also performed well. I believe compliance with the 1.28gpm standard can happen without sacrificing performance.
I also think that lavatory faucets with a flow rate of 1.5gpm will ultimately be acceptable to most people. There is a noticeable difference from the 2.2 gpm we are currently working with but once one becomes accustom to the new flow rate I believe most people will find it OK.
There may be more resistance with kitchen faucets. I know when I am washing large pans I want a strong stream of water to rinse and 1.8 gpm may not be enough to really do the job. On the other hand if you are doing most of your dish washing in a dishwasher it may be that the low flow kitchen faucets will make less of an impact.
The place I think we will see the greatest resistance is in the shower. Questions remain as to how CalGreen with effect the remodeling market but it is clear that we are moving towards an end to multiple outlet showers. CalGreen Section 4.303.2 titled “Multiple Showerheads Serving One Shower” states that “when single shower fixtures are served by more than one shower head the combined flow rate of all showerheads shall not exceed the maximum flow rate… or shower shall be designed to allow one showerhead at a time to operate”. The maximum flow rate for shower heads to comply with 20% savings is 2.0 gallon per minute. It is hard to imagine multiple heads with a total flow rate of 2.0 gpm.
Of course the regulation does state that reduction may be measured with a performance approach so perhaps that leaves the door open to developing ways to capture and reuse gray water from multiple outlet showers? I do not know (there are problems with shower water as gray water). I’m afraid we will also see many attempts to get around the regulation.
Water conservation is important and fortunately technology is making it increasingly easy to comply without giving up too much performance. If you would like to read the summary of CalGreen please click here.