As I write this I’m just about midway between World Water Day (March 22nd) and Earth Day (April 22nd). This past month was also host to World Plumbing Day (March 11th) and there are a host of other days, weeks and months on the calendar to help keep us mindful of the role of the built environment in sustainable living. May, for example, is Building Safety Month (the third week, the 13th through the 19th, is dedicated to securing clean, abundant water for all communities).
To all of which, the very natural response for many people is, “What does all this have to do with me?” Yes, we all live on the same planet, and yes, we all want that planet to be in decent shape for our kids and grandkids, but at the end of the day almost everyone reading this is a businessperson trying to serve his customers and make some money. I mean, if you want to save the world you go put on a cape, not pick up a wrench, right?
But plumbers are in a unique position. Just by dint of being a professional, just keeping to the plumbing codes and standards, means that the plumber is on the front lines when it comes to the fight against water-borne pathogens like Legionella. As the saying goes “The Plumber Protects the Heath of the Nation.”
Moreover, the knowledge and expertise of plumbers make them key influencers for home and facility owners making decisions on sustainability. After all, who doesn’t want a lower water bill? Who doesn’t want a lower energy bill? If those are things a plumber—through the products they install and the services they provide—can deliver to a customer, why wouldn’t they offer them? Even if those things come at a higher price-point, the plumber still owes his customers a conversation about their return on investment.
The plumbing standards, by the way, now make delivering those services more practical than ever. Check out the new rainwater harvesting standard just recently developed by the ICC and the CSA Group.
Let’s not forget there’s plenty of money to be made in doing the right thing. The U.S. loses almost a trillion gallons of water a year due to leaks. New water infrastructure investment in the form of WIFIA loans means there’s finally money in the pipeline to address the problem, and it’s plumbers and pipefitters who will be getting the work.
There are consumers willing to pay top dollar for green systems. Check out our cover case study from John Mesenbrink for a story of a homeowner who pushed for a top-of-the-line solar hydronic system only to have it mis-installed and fail to deliver on the promised energy savings. Instead of abandoning their green dream the homeowner doubled down on getting the system fixed and performing correctly, despite the additional expense. That’s a motivated customer!
I can remember years ago when former Editorial Director Bob Mader told me, “I want every issue of CONTRACTOR to be the green issue.” I took that to heart. Efficiency, sustainability shouldn’t be the exception, they should be the rule. The real point of World Water Day is that it shouldn’t be once a year, it should be here every day.