NRDC, UA Lobby for Pipe Insulation Code Change

by | Jan 9, 2014

NRDCjpgThe United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry and the Natural Resources Defense Council have submitted a proposal to the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials to require the insulation of hot water piping in new buildings.

Currently many Americans waste millions of gallons of water by letting water run until it’s hot enough for use in showers and sinks, the organizations say.

In a typical, 3-bedroom, 2-bath home, an estimated 12 percent of all hot-water use is wasted, according to a 2009 analysis by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Purging at showers, kitchen sinks, and lavatory faucets was responsible for 95 percent of the estimated total of nearly 3,000 gallons of hot water waste annually.

The NRDC estimates pipe insulation can reduce this waste of water and energy by 15-30 percent. Of course, many new homes are built with more hot water outlets than the NREL model’s base case, and with hot water distribution systems that are far less efficient. For example, some new homes are built with their hot-water heaters located in the garage, far away from showers and faucets.

To curtail this waste in new buildings, the NRDC and the UA proposed that the 2015 edition of IAPMO‘s Uniform Plumbing Code require insulation of all hot water piping systems such as those serving lavatories, showers, dishwashers, and kitchen sinks. The Uniform Plumbing Code is the model for local and state plumbing codes now in force in at least 19 states.

If adopted, the proposal will not only save homeowners and renters money on their monthly utility bills but also protects our environment by cutting energy and water use, the NRDC says.

The UA says that this proposal is just one of the untapped opportunities available throughout the construction industry that would make buildings and our economy more efficient.

The consumption of water and energy is connected in many ways. As such, when one focuses on saving water there is often a reduction in energy consumption and vice versa, Laura Thompson, director of technical marketing and sustainable development for Sappi Fine Paper, wrote recently in a column for EMT.

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