Friday, 2nd December: IGBC proposes solution for measuring excess water.
The recent recommendation by the expert water commission to charge only for excessive water use may be a sensible approach and could be used to ensure that all new homes are water efficient according to the Irish Green Building Council.
The Irish Green Building Council have already defined excess use of water and set a benchmark that no new home should exceed in their recently launched Home Performance Index (HPI). The HPI certification system has been designed to ensure new housing meets minimum quality standards.
The Irish Green Building Council are scheme partners with the European water label which provides a label for water efficient fittings and fixtures just like the rating system for electrical goods. It also provides a water calculator to assess the impact of the fittings on overall water usage in the home just like the Building Energy Rating (BER) rating system does for energy.
CEO of the Irish Green Building Council Pat Barry stated ‘In the absence of water efficiency regulation we have found that there is very little knowledge amongst home buyers, architects or homebuilders about water efficient fittings in homes. The lack of water charges to date means that there has been little incentive for anyone to even think about, demand or specify water efficiency’.
Mr. Barry went on to state ’what is even worse is the impact of water inefficiency on carbon emissions. Upstream water treatment accounted for one of the highest sources of carbon emissions for local authorities whilst hot water can now be the highest single source of energy use in homes built to current energy regulations. The least efficient showers use in excess of 20 litres of hot water per minutes as opposed to 6 litres for the most efficient. Wasteful water fittings are not accounted for in the BER meaning that energy use could be much worse than predicted in new Irish homes’.
IGBC proposes the use of the water efficiency benchmarks which are easy to calculate and can be done by an architect or engineer in 30 minutes. If as recently suggested water charges are added to the property tax this would allow all homes meeting the benchmark to be exempted from the additional charge without the need to measure the actual water consumption, thus avoiding extra costs and delays.