Home Featured Going with Green – Products and Technology still in Demand

Going with Green – Products and Technology still in Demand

Going with Green – Products and Technology still in Demand

By Cynthia Marsh

Going with Green - Products and Technology still in DemandIt’s hard to believe the first low-flow toilet, showers and faucets manufactured in the U.S. as mandated by the Energy Policy Act was almost 25 years ago.

There was a lot of end-user backlash on the poor performance of those low-flow fixtures and fittings. As Morty Seinfeld said in a memorable episode of that iconic television show, “I don’t like the sound of that.”

Fortunately for consumers and the plumbers who are called to install and troubleshoot, a lot has changed as manufacturers have improved the flush, spray and flow to be almost discernible between pre-1994 and 2018.

In fact, ongoing research by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and its partners shows that many home buyers are interested in green, sustainable and high-performance building practices. Water-efficient features were cited as essential/desirable by 72 percent of respondents.

There is no lack of products available to meet the demand. Plumbing manufacturers have developed more than 20,000 models of WaterSense labeled products for bathrooms and commercial kitchens.

Going with Green - Products and Technology still in Demand“The demand for green products has changed over the past five years,” said Peggy Gallagher, a product manager for Delta. “Everyone is becoming more and more water conscious, whether you are a home builder, specifier, architect or homeowner we continue to receive more requests for water saving/water conserving products.

“Water efficiency continues to remain top of mind, and this is where Delta Touch20 technology in the kitchen and Touch20.xt technology in the bathroom can really come in handy. Not only can the faucet be activated by a single touch, but it’s smart technology as well. All of the Delta faucets that feature Touch2O technology have preset shut off of four minutes for the kitchen and one minute in the bathroom, helping consumers be more water efficient and worry-free,” she said.

Delta’s H20kinetic technology in the shower uses large water droplets that retain their heat longer and a denser spray pattern. “1.5 gpm actually feels like 2.5 gpm and results in a 36 percent decrease in water usage,” Gallagher said.

1.0 GPF Toilet

In 2016, Kohler introduced a 1.0 gpf toilet for a “next-level” water conservation option. The Highline combines the force of gravity with a precision-engineered tank, bowl, and trapway to create a strong siphon during flushing for optimal performance while preserving water. According to Kohler, choosing a one-gallon flush over a 1.6 gpf toilet can save 38 percent, offering a savings of more than 4,500 gallons of water per toilet, per year.

 ‘Conservation + Protection’

Going with Green - Products and Technology still in DemandWe’ve seen green technologies gaining momentum throughout the U.S. and it’s being driven mainly by consumer demand and manufacturer innovation,” said Mark Chaffee, vice president governmental affairs and sustainability at Taco Comfort Solutions. “Not to lessen the effect of governmental regulations on the HVAC industry, but we’re seeing more consumers interested in their individual footprint and technology has made it easier for them to implement energy and water-saving products in their own homes.

The trend includes a move toward “conservation plus protection.” Homeowners are asking, “How can I use less water? How can I protect my home against potential water damage? And how can I do both without sacrificing any comfort or adding complexity to my life?”

“This is where water and energy conservation innovations from Taco, like the Hot-LinkPlus-e, are paired with the protection of the LeakBreaker Water Heater Shut-Off,” Chaffee said.

Going with Green - Products and Technology still in DemandThe Hot-LinkPlus-e is a hot water recirculation package that does not need a dedicated cold water return line, so it can be easily retrofitted into any existing home. It utilizes an ECM circulator for energy conservation, and features a self-programming control that learns the water usage patterns of the home for water savings of up to 12,000 gallons per year.

The LeakBreaker is a leak detection device that shuts off the incoming water supply to a water heater in the event of a leak. In addition to an audible alarm, its eLink connectivity automatically alerts the user via text or e-mail if there is a water leak.

“Our phones have become the hub for an integrated user experience in the home, from streaming movies, to dimming the lights, to notifications of problems with the HVAC system,” Chaffee said. “When connected to the right products in the mechanical room, conservation, protection and information are made easy.”

High-Efficiency HVAC

Going with Green - Products and Technology still in Demand

A separate survey by NAHB showed that high-efficiency HVAC systems and programmable thermostats also ranked highly among the most common green products used.

“With homeowner demand for energy efficient home technologies on the rise, the need for mechanical ventilation, allowing even the most tightly built home to “breathe” in fresh air and exhale any pollutants in a controlled and monitored way, while still maximizing energy efficiency, is at the forefront of modern building science discussions,” said Jeff Klonowski, national IAQ sales manager, Panasonic.

Going with Green - Products and Technology still in Demand

“As building codes require tighter, more energy-efficient homes, third-party certification programs like EPA’s ENERGY STAR enable and encourage builders to have a profound impact on the comfort and safety of residents, as well as the cost of construction and the cost of operating the home,” he said.

Panasonic’s ECM motor with SmartFlow technology moves more air using less energy, so ventilation fans are energy efficient and last longer.

Panasonic’s Intelli-Balance Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) replaces the air it exhausts while exchanging the heat between incoming and outgoing air. In winter, heat is transferred from the warm outgoing air to the cooler incoming air. This process tempers supply air while transferring moisture. In summer, heat is extracted from the warm incoming air and transferred Going with Green - Products and Technology still in Demandto the cool outgoing air. The result is better indoor air quality (IAQ) and low energy bills.

Klonowski noted that over the past five years, public health problems caused by indoor air pollution have drawn strong public concerns. “As a result, green building and remodeling has become a popular trend among today’s homeowners who understand that sustainability matters and expect their homes to be comfortable, energy-efficient and quiet alongside good IAQ.”

Going Tankless For Energy Savings

Tankless water heater products continue to grow in popularity in terms of their energy saving potential,” said Carl A. Pinto Jr., director of marketing, Bradford White. “Heat pump water heaters are also becoming a much bigger part of the energy efficiency conversation, with energy advocates, builders and general plumbing and HVAC contractors showing greater interest in these products.

“Regulatory factors will have an impact on the direction of HVAC products and their efficiency and fuel sources over the next few years and that pattern will likely continue in the absence of any significant deregulation,” Pinto said. “These changes will be driven by a combination of national, state and local regulations. For example, California’s continuously evolving Title 24 will require that solar photovoltaic power resources be integrated into many new home constructions as a means by which to fuel certain home needs, including HVAC equipment. In addition, heat pump water heaters will be included as one of the Title 24 options for improved efficiency and energy management.

“There are many opinions on how to approach the matter of water conversation, but we must be careful how some changes in technology can inadvertently create changes in behavior that have some potentially adverse effects,” Pinto said. “For example, certain tankless regulations were put into play in the interest of energy or fuel conservation, but the tankless phenomenon has also created the notion of ‘endless hot water’ for consumers. So, what does that mean? We potentially sacrifice consumer water conservation sensitivities in exchange for the fuel efficiency gains. As we already know, both remain critically important issues, especially in certain geographic regions.”

Voice Activated Devices Also Save Energy

Going with Green - Products and Technology still in DemandWinner of the Best of the International Builder’s Show Energy-Efficient Product, the ecobee4 with Amazon Alexa voice service and far-field voice recognition combines smart thermostat functionality and voice. Through far-field voice recognition, ecobee4 will respond to voice commands from anywhere in the room. ecobee4 is also compatible with the company’s signature room sensor technology, which measures occupancy and temperature to deliver comfort when the customer is home and energy savings when they’re away.

Also working with Amazon Alexa is the Lennox iComfort E30 Smart Thermostat. It is compatible with any brand of HVAC system, as well as with the Lennox iHarmony Zoning System, which gives homeowners the ability to achieve optimum levels of comfort in up to four zones within a home, saving energy and money by not having to heat or cool unused areas of the home.

“As today’s families find their daily routines becoming anything but routine, the versatility of the iComfort E30 delivers flexibility, comfort, savings and peace of mind,” said Sweta Hari, energy-efficiency expert at Lennox.