Green from the Ground Up Best Practices

  • Design circulation loops with small-volume branch lines.
  • Buy a high-efficiency water heater with a low lifecycle cost. Size it correctly.
  • To reduce waste, use an on-demand circulation system that primes the host water line when hot water is needed. Avoid systems that circulate hote water continuously.
  • In a trunk and branch system, make branch lines no larger than 1/2-in. dia. and no more than 10ft. long.
  • Insulate hot water lines.
  • Reduce the number of restrictions in hot water supply lines, which decrease the effective length of the run. Lines that include sweeping turns rather than sharp 90-degree bends have less internal turbulence and better flow.
  • Installing PEX tubing instead of copper or PVC saves time and money during construction and reduces the potential for leaks.
  • Buy water-saving appliances and fixtures.
  • Set the water heater thermostat at 120° F.

Green Plumbers Resource

The twin conservation issues of water and energy conservation are the heart of a plumbing system in a green-built home.


  • Heating water for domestic use accounts for as much as 30 percent of residential energy consumption.
  • Wasted water adds up to tens of gallon per day, thousands of gallons per year. If each home saved 20 gallon of water each day, in one year 7,300 gallons of water would be saved.

The potential for plumbing fixtures to save water is greater than ever.Changing climate and weather patterns have made water a precious commodity and are an incentive for efficient plumbing systems.

See Chapter 8 on Plumbing in the Green from the Ground Up book for more details or contact us about training.

Green Plumbers’ Transition Guide

Educate Yourself about High Efficiency Water Heaters

A new water heater will pay for itself over the life of the product

Install a California Builder Model (Title 24 compliant) if available



Insulate Your Customers’ Hot Water Pipes

Lower the utility bill for the client and increase comfort

Very inexpensive, pipe insulation is readily available



Install High-Efficiency Toilets

Toilets consume more water than any other fixture in the house. Customers will save money on their water bill

These toilets are installed in the same manner as any other toilet.

Dual flush toilets are more expensive, but are available at home improvement stores.


Install Flow Reducers on Faucets and Shower heads

  • Water savings for the client
  • Buy retrofit aerators and screw into faucet head
  • These reducers are readily available and are attached at the faucet head.

Install On-Demand Circulation Systems

  • Customers will get hot water without the wait. Saves energy by only heating the water as it is needed.
  • Install at furthest faucet from the water heater
  • Can be used in remodeling or new construction and saves both energy and water over the life of the product.

Install Drain Water Heat Recovery Systems

Heat is recovered from waste water resulting in energy and water savings

Typically installed during new construction under tubs and showers

Each fixture needs its own device

Pre-Plumb for Future Greywater Systems

  • Save money for the homeowner in the future Greywater systems mean less potable water used flushing toilets or for outdoor watering
  • It is much simpler to plan for greywater in new construction than to retrofit later
  • Greywater is only legal in a few areas of the country As water shortages occur due to climate change, municipalities will be encouraged to legalize greywater.

Green Building Training & Certification

Find out when the next Green Building Training is and learn more about Green Building Practices.