The Torch - January 27, 2016

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Activities

NAHB Passes Resolution Supporting Voluntary Water Measures

The National Association of Home Builders’ Board of Directors passed a resolution on January 21, 2016 supporting voluntary water efficiency measures. The resolution, approved by voice vote with no opposition, provides state and local homebuilders associations the guidance necessary as they develop their own local water conservation policies.

“Two important concepts in the NAHB resolution sprung from the experience Santa Fe builders have undergone in recent years as Santa Fe significantly lowered its water consumption”, according to Kim Shanahan, Executive Officer of the Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association. “One is that any new home must offset its proposed water consumption by proving other measures have been taken that permanently reduce the water system usage by an equal or greater amount – such as switching out older high flow toilets with low-flow toilets. The second concept has been the development of the Water Efficiency Rating Score (WERS), which is a predictive, water consumption calculation tool that proves to a jurisdiction what the builder claims is likely to be true.”

The final paragraph of the resolution reads:

“Be it further resolved that NAHB encourage the development and voluntary use of water calculation tools that account for total water consumption both within the structure(s) and the overall property and include both delivered potable water and water from precipitation.”

Both the WERS Development Group and Green Builder® Coalition staff endorse NAHB’s actions on this vital issue. “We applaud Kim Shanahan’s leadership to address this growing concern amongst both homebuilders and communities,” said Mike Collignon, Executive Director of the Green Builder® Coalition. “He initiated this resolution in June 2015, and has been an advocate for water efficiency for years.”

Since February 2014, The Coalition has helped develop the Water Efficiency Rating Score for new and existing residential properties. It was first used in November 2015 to help a New Mexico homebuilder save significant time and money on his pursuit of a building permit.

WERS (www.wers.us) is a predictive, performance-based approach to residential water efficiency and water resource management. The WERS is the culmination of calculations that consider the loading from principal plumbing fixtures, clothes washers, structural waste, and outdoor water management. Potential rainwater and greywater catchment are also calculated. Applicable for both new and existing single-family and multifamily residential properties, it uses a scoring scale of zero to 100, with zero being the most desirable and 100 representing the baseline home.


Industry News

Rainwater Harvesting Manual Now Available Through ARCSA

ARCSA logoThe American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA) published their new Rainwater Harvesting Manual in November 2015. The book provides a foundation for the vocabulary, concepts, strategies, data needs and calculations used to develop passive and active rainwater harvesting systems. Written with the help of numerous rainwater experts, the ARCSA Rainwater Harvesting Manual will serve as the textbook for the ARCSA AP Program and provide supplemental course material for the Inspection Specialist Program and Rainwater Harvesting Master Program.

The manual is intended to prepare people to pursue the additional training, research and acquisition of practical experience, needed to design, install and maintain rainwater harvesting systems. The manual includes both educational material for the AP Workshop and the ARCSA/ASPE/ANSI Standard 63. Black & white copies of the manual retail for $77.50, while color copies sell for $95.50. (By comparison, Standard 63 is $49.95 for ARCSA members, when purchased separately). The manual is available in ARCSA’s online store: www.arcsa.org.


Train of Thought

As I reflected on my time at Design & Construction Week, I had the good fortune to spend time with a number of my members. I enjoy each and every conversation, because the discussions that ensue are thought-provoking and meaningful. A group of us were talking about current market conditions, the upcoming energy code hearings, and varying strategies on energy efficiency.

One topic that is sure to be thoroughly debated in 2016 is solar tradeoffs. It is a topic that evokes a lot of passion amongst a variety of industry groups. It also represents a lot of money, for everyone from the solar industry to homebuilders to insulation manufacturers to natural gas/propane suppliers to homeowners. It’s quickly getting to the point where large-volume customers are asking manufacturers to compromise their core values in order to close a sale.

When pointing out the absurdity of 9-figure companies expending significant resources to reduce market opportunities for other 9-figure companies, a member told me, “You’re exactly right, but that’s just human nature… trying to get more.” Look, I earned an undergraduate degree from an accredited business school. I understand companies are in business to continue to make a profit. But come on! Is continuing to make more at the expense of others and our planet worth it? Have we reached that level of greed as an industry, or as a society?

I’m going off memory here, but statistics shared during a presentation at Design & Construction Week showed that residential green building will soon rise to roughly 37% of the overall housing market, and that equated to approximately $90 billion. That means housing represents over $250 billion in revenues. Isn’t there enough to go around? Can’t everyone get a piece of the pie? Do we really need to squabble and fight at every turn? Why can’t we devote our collective energy to something greater, like building an overall product that doesn’t devour our planet’s resources, to the point where future generations will reside in a barren wasteland?

Faux Rams helmetMaybe my perspective is jaded by the NFL’s bungling of the Los Angeles relocation process (just ask Dean Spanos and Mark Davis) and Rams’ owner Stan Kroenke’s recent decision to move his franchise in order to increase his personal wealth from $8 to $10 billion. I don’t think anything solicits less sympathy than billionaires fighting with other billionaires over money. And to be fair, I don’t know what it feels like to have $2 million, let alone $2 billion. However, I don’t think all that is heavily influencing my opinion.

One of my favorite quotes is from comedian Lewis Black. In his 2005 book “Nothing’s Sacred”, he rails against corporate greed, especially the CEOs who fleeced companies like Tyco, Adelphia and Enron for their own personal gain. (Mr. Black would later deliver this vein-popping tirade in a televised standup special.) The line that stays with me to this day is:

                “How much s--t do you really need?”

Though they are 11 years old, Lewis Black’s words continue to echo in my mind.


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