Conserve in Style

By Erika Schnitzer, Associate EditorBuildings account for a large percentage of electricity and potable water consumption—72 percent and 14 percent, respectively. Both resources are not only crucial to the environment, but as Lenora Campos, Ph.D., manager of public relations at Toto USA, asserts, “Water is the new oil. It will be something over which the new conflicts will arise.” It is essential, then, to consider not only a building’s envelope but also residential appliance selection. Reports of people living without refrigerators in order to save on energy costs and help the environment have recently come to light. But unless you can convince all of your residents to ditch the fridge, chances are you’ll need to look at other options for energy savings. Simply replacing refrigerators that are more than seven years old is a measure that pays for itself, asserts Carolyn Cheetham, CMKBD, owner of Design Works by Cheetham and a member of the NKBA (National Kitchen & Bath Association) Board of Directors.Dishwashers are also significant because of their water and energy consumption. However, they use less water than washing dishes by hand. And today, “Dishwashers are definitely being built and designed to use less water,” notes Cheetham. “The racking is designed to hold as many as four times as many dishes.”In the bathroom, new showerheads cannot exceed 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) at a water pressure of 80 pounds per square inch (psi) and standards for faucets are 2.5 gpm at 80 psi or 2.2 gpm at 60 psi, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Low-flow fixtures can result in water savings of 25 to 60 percent. New kitchen faucets have aerators restricting flow rates to 2.2 gpm, while new bathroom faucets restrict flow rates from 0.5 to 1.5 gpm.While water-efficient showerheads are becoming more readily available, they may be more difficult to determine as such. “We, in the U.S., are a showering culture, so there’s a question around lowering water volume but maintaining the experience,” explains Campos. The question becomes, “Do you maintain a particular water level so a person spends less time in the shower or do you lower it to the extent they need to spend more time” in the shower? With energy-efficient appliances and low-flow fixtures becoming more commonplace, manufacturers are focusing their efforts on delivering the same everyday experience with an efficient product, all the while seeking an aesthetically pleasing product, Campos notes. “People are going to want to maintain a level of experience that we’ve come to expect. We believe that to be welcomed into the well-designed apartment home, they must be beautiful as well as water-efficient.”Meanwhile, objections to spending more for water- and energy-efficient appliances are waning. Proper appliance selection can pay for itself; the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program offers tax incentives, and rebate programs may provide as much as $75 to $150 per appliance. “The industry has gotten much better in offering electrical and water savings at entry-level products,” Cheetham notes. And, she points out, in multifamily, you can multiply every selection by however many units a property has. If every decision is scrutinized down to pennies, it can result in significant savings. Eco Luxury En and Po deck mount high-efficiency faucets from Toto [1] bear the EPA’s WaterSense label. Both have a flow rate of 1.5 gpm and complement their respective lavatories. They are ADA-compliant and available in all Toto finishes (www.totousa.com)… Delta [2] has expanded its H20kinetic Technology showerhead line to include a Traditional style (pictured). At a flow rate of 1.5 gpm, it saves 36 percent of the water used by a standard showerhead while delivering 60 psi. It is available as a stand-alone option or as a tub/shower option with finish choices of Chrome, Venetian Bronze, Brilliance Stainless and Aged Pewter (www.deltafaucet.com)… Bosch’s [3] counter-depth Linea refrigeration is Energy Star-qualified and features the NoFrost and DualCool systems, the latter for independently controlled temperature settings. All functions can be accessed from the outside, and the line, which will launch in April, is available in a choice of high-gloss white, black and stainless steel (www.boschappliances.com)… ASKO’s D3251 dishwasher [4] is an ADA height-compliant model that is available in TouchProof stainless steel or fully integrated. With a capacity of over 12 place settings, the Energy Star model uses approximately half the water of other dishwashers and has a half-load option that uses three gallons of water (www.askousa.com)… A 1.0 gallon-per-flush pressure assist toilet, Niagara Conservation’s [5]  PowerOne reportedly uses less water per flush than any other toilet on the market. The air-pressure assisted Sloan Flushmate flush valve provides enough force to clean the bowl with one flush (www.niagaraconservation.com).To comment, e-mail erika.schnitzer@nielsen.com