New Study Shows Plastic Piping Systems Enable Proper Performance of Green Building Technologies

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A new study by the Plastic Pipe and Fittings Association (PPFA) entitled “Green Building Technologies that Use Plastic Pipe and Tubing to Function,” highlights the advantages of plastic pipe, tube and fittings in the residential and commercial application of the green building technologies and provides information that can assist in the evaluation, selection, design and implementation of these technologies in new construction or remodeling of homes and buildings.

Plastic pipe, tubing and fittings play an integral role in the proper functional, safety and environmental performance of 11 key green building technologies. That’s the conclusion of a new study by the Plastic Pipe and Fittings Association (PPFA) entitled “Green Building Technologies that Use Plastic Pipe and Tubing to Function,” which highlights the advantages of plastic pipe, tube and fittings in the residential and commercial application of the green building technologies and provides information that can assist in the evaluation, selection, design and implementation of these technologies in new construction or remodeling of homes and buildings.

The study, compiled by Sustainability Edge Solutions and available through the Plastic Pipe and Fittings Association at plasticpiping.org, offers further assistance by targeting the information to the specific needs of installers, designers, green builders, homeowners and commercial building owners and managers.

It details the use of piping systems and those situations where plastic is preferred over alternatives. The primary advantages cited for plastic piping systems generally include:

  •     Durability and strength combined with chemical, weather and corrosion resistance and biological inertness, leading to effective performance and long service life in the field
  •     Extensive testing and compliance with nationally accepted consensus standards, third-party certification, and approval in building codes and regulations.
  •     Material flexibility and lighter weight, enabling greater design flexibility, ease of installation and lower installation time and cost
  •     Ease of color coding and marking to identify safe acceptable uses and applications
  •     Cost-effectiveness in terms of manufacturing, transportation and ease of installation

The report contains a chapter on residential and commercial application of each of the following eleven technologies:
1. Gray water reuse
2. Rainwater harvesting
3. Geothermal ground loops
4. Higher efficiency hot water distribution
5. Radiant heating
6. Solar hot water
7. Water efficient irrigation
8. Radon venting
9. Decentralized wastewater treatment
10. Central vacuum systems
11. Residential fire sprinklers

For each technology reviewed, information was compiled on: description, benefits and limitations; energy and/or water savings potential for a hypothetical scenario, associated simple economic payback period and estimated CO2 equivalent (CO2e) greenhouse gas reductions; life safety impacts, where applicable; Indoor environmental quality (IEQ) impacts, where applicable; materials used for piping, tubing, fittings; and operating examples describing selected examples of installations.

The study’s relevance in green buildings is underscored by data that notes that an American family of four can use 400 gallons (3,338 pounds) of water per day. On average, approximately 70% of that water is used indoors and about 30% is for outdoor uses. Properly designed and implemented green building technologies that make use of plastic pipe, tubing and fittings can result in significant reductions in energy and water consumption of homes and commercial buildings while reducing associated greenhouse gas emissions and wastewater generation. Onsite storm water management practices can reduce the rate and quantity of storm water runoff and improve its quality as it returns to surface or groundwater sources.

Reducing onsite potable water waste, and especially hot water waste, reduces the energy and chemicals expended to treat, heat and distribute that water and to remove and process the resulting wastewater. Conservation of water offers tremendous benefits to municipalities and utilities in terms of reduced operating costs and deferred capital expenditures for new or upgraded water supply and wastewater treatment facilities. As stated in “Rainwater: The Untapped Resource, High Performing Buildings, Summer 2008,” water treatment and delivery use seven-to-eight percent of the nation’s energy.

Plastic piping systems are increasingly being used in green building to take advantage of state and local governments offering incentives for green buildings in the form of tax credits (income and property tax, sales tax), fast-tracking building permit approvals, utility subsidies, grants and loans. Innovative financing mechanisms are increasingly being made available to assist with capital costs of installing green building technologies, especially when favorable projected operating cost savings can be demonstrated.

The report was compiled by Sustainability Edge Solutions, which provides sustainability consulting and advisory services to facilitate strategies and plans to proactively manage social and environmental impacts in a fiscally responsible way, making a positive difference to the bottom line. The company applies internationally recognized sustainability practices, tools and standards for sustainability strategy and program development.

For more information on the study, visit the Plastic Pipe and Fittings Association at http://www.ppfahome.org/Landing_Pages/Green Building Technologies Report.html

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David Brimm
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