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Green Networking at Green Drinks

February 26, 2009 1 comment

Attending a Green Drinks event in your city is a great way to connect and learn from others who are on the journey to Destination Green.  Green Drinks is an informal gathering of folks who work in the environmental field and/or are interested in living and working more sustainably.  At these gatherings, you’ll have the opportunity to speak with and gain insight from a wide variety of people – green builders, organic farmers, city officials, professors, scientists, greentrepreneurs, volunteers, LEED AP professionals, fair trade business practitioners  – the list goes on and spans every conceivable green collar vocation. 

 

Green Drinks, as of this post, is active in 448 cities around the world.  The format is organic, and varies from city to city.  Here in Ft. Collins, we meet on the fourth Wednesday of every month at a rotating venue.  We are fortunate to have a long list of generous, green-minded hosts in our town…hosted venues are booked out to 2010!  Now just into our third year, our mailing list has surpassed 800 and we consistently have 100 to 150+ attendees.

 

We strive to have an educational component to our gatherings.  Many times this is accomplished simply by virtue of the venue and host.  Education is always in parallel to good networking, conversation and fun.  We start the event at 6 p.m. with mingling, cocktails and appetizers or snacks.  At about 7 p.m. our host takes 10 minutes or so to speak to the group about how their organization is engaged in sustainability.  Things usually wrap up at 8 p.m., though not always!

 

Last night’s Green Drinks was hosted for the second time by the City of Fort Collins, and featured an expo showcasing the many green programs and initiatives of various City departments.  Check out the video below for highlights. 

 

Other Green Drinks hosts and sponsors in our city include green builders and architects, sustainability-minded craft brewers and food growers/purveyors, environmentally-focused thrift and salvage stores, and a variety of other local businesses who have taken significant green actions relative to their operations or help others make great strides toward more eco-friendly living.

 

So find the Green Drinks in your city, and if there isn’t one yet, be the green hero who starts one.

 

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlNCf4AiL2E]

 

 

When it comes to eco-friendly homes, bird by bird is the word

February 23, 2009 Leave a comment

A favorite author, Anne Lamott, offers up some universal wisdom in her book “Bird By Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life“.

 

“Thirty years ago my brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write.  (It) was due the next day.  We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead.  Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'”

 

To our reading, this little anecdote from Lamott’s book has two very important things to say about creating more eco-friendly homes. 

 

First, it speaks to breaking the often powerful grip of procrastination.  Anne Lamott’s brother had chosen a reasonable scope for his report and collected what he needed to write it, but he was frozen by inaction.  Most of us really do want to green up our act and live in a manner that is less wasteful, if not for the sake of the planet, at least for the sake of our own pocketbooks and well-being.  But where to start?  So much information, so little time.  And, of course, old habits are hard to break.  Well, enough with the excuses.  Picture your version of a green home, plan a route to it, and get started.  Don’t hesitate to lean on great resources like GenGreen, or take a class in your area like the one Ariana Friedlander is offering here in Fort Collins.  And make sure your plan includes a Simple Start project or two – they are easy, don’t cost much to implement, and will build your confidence for larger projects down the road. 

 

Second is the important reminder that any plan is ultimately realized one piece at a time.  In recent years, mortgage lenders and “reality TV” home makeover shows have created the illusion that achieving a “dream home” is a snap.  Until the recent banking meltdown, it was way too easy for folks to overextend themselves by letting these shows shape the scope for do-it-all-now dream home projects that were then financed with loans that were too big, too easily granted, and in many cases just too good to be true.  Well, for most of us, it is now time to retrench to a truer reality more in line with the pay-as-you-go, bird by bird approach of our parents’ and grandparents’ generation.

 

So as you travel toward Destination Green, think bird by bird.  It is a great way to be realistic about, and truly engaged in, your journey to a more eco-friendly home. It may also help us teach some lost lessons to the generations that follow us and leave them with a healthier planet than we inherited.  We owe them that.

Go green with eco-friendly cleaning products

February 20, 2009 5 comments

The time for Spring cleaning is almost upon us.  But when it comes to cleaning products, do you really know whether those that you are using are safe?  Unless you have specifically sought to purchase non-toxic cleaning products, chances are what you are using to scrub surfaces, clothes and yourselves are not really particularly safe for you and your family, or good for the environment.

 

If you are older than 30 or so, you probably remember the national Mr. Yuk campaign  (“…things marked Yuk make you sick… sick sick sick” )  intended to educate children to stay away from poisonous products.  I definitely remember those green scowling Mr. Yuk  faces on stickers all over the products my mom used around our house when I was young.  Since then, products have proliferated for every household application and most haven’t gotten any safer for you, your children or your pets.

 

If you have been thinking about switching to more eco-friendly cleaning products, it’s not a bad idea before that big Spring cleaning to do an inventory of what you are currently using, including your bathroom and kitchen cleaners, detergents, soaps, bleaches, cleansers, scrubbing powders,  and dusting and furniture polishing products.  You may be surprised and troubled at what you discover. And there is a good chance you will want to replace many of the current items.

 

When you assemble your current cleaning products, you need to be able to look beyond the advertising lingo to understand what potentially toxic chemicals are in them. Product labels can be deceiving, as a number of terms, including “chlorine-free”, “all natural”, “chemical free”, and  “non-toxic”  are unregulated.   So, you have to dig deeper to look at the actual ingredients in a product.  Often it is not easy, because the Consumer Products Safety Commission doesn’t require manufacturers to reveal their ingredients, as they are considered “trade secrets” (Nice cover, huh?).

 

Warnings and cautionary statements such as “work in a well ventilated area” and “may cause irritation or burns”, or instructions to contact the poison control center if ingested are surefire indicators that a product isn’t really safe.  Also be alert for products containing chlorine (sometimes listed as sodium hypochlorite or hypochlorite), glycol ether, hydrochloric acid and phthalates.   These items are especially common chemicals found in cleaning products that irritate lungs, damage skin, eyes and membranes and even are suspected to interfere with normal reproductive development of children, in the case of phthalates.  But keep in mind that you may never know that these dangerous chemicals are actually in your products unless you choose brands that you know are environmentally friendly and people friendly.

 

As a side note, phosphates are something to also avoid in cleaning products. They are often found in detergents, and they are an environmental enemy because when they work their way into our waterways (which ultimately does happen) they fuel rampant growth of algae, which sucks the oxygen from the water and kills off aquatic life.

 

The most eco-friendly cleaning products are those where you recognize all of the ingredients on the label and know they are harmless. Thankfully, there are a number of companies as of late that are making products that are very effective,  as well as safe, to you and the environment.  These companies use ingredients like vinegar and citric acid as their effective cleaning agents, and essential oils rather than chemicals for fragrance.  Instead of products like Comet, which use chlorine, you can now find scouring powders with baking soda and sodium borate (a mineral salt) as their main ingredients.  These eco-friendly cleansers are very effective. Phosphate-free laundry detergent is now readily available too.

 

Many people are familiar with the Seventh Generation brand, available broadly from grocery and pharmacy stores near you as well as e-tailers on line.  Other firms now also make great products. One way to identify these products is by the Green Seal.  Products bearing the Green Seal have been evaluated by a third party to insure they are safe for people and the environment. Green Irene  offers a wide range of green cleaning products under the “Simple. Pure. Clean.” brand, made by Seaside Naturals.  You can even buy gallon-sized refills so you don’t have to dispose of the pump bottle.  It may take a little more effort to identify environmentally friendly cleaning products, but it’s ultimately well worth the effort.

 

If you do decide to swap out your old, toxic cleaning products for more green alternatives, please don’t dump them down the sink or into the toilet. They are considered hazardous materials and you should dispose of them as you would any other hazardous item. Most towns have drop sites for hazardous materials, often at the town landfill. Here in Fort Collins, you can take them to our Larimer County landfill and dispose of them safety, insuring that these items don’t make it back into the eco-system. Be careful when you transport them so that they don’t spill or mix with other items, as combining various chemicals, like chlorine and ammonia can be very dangerous.

Greenlording: property management for green-minded real estate investors

February 17, 2009 1 comment

When it comes to our investment properties, Lara and I are real estate investors with a bottom line orientation.  However, unlike the greedy Wall Street high flyers and Johnny-come-lately real estate speculators that the rest of us have recently been called upon to bail-out, we take a long view with a wide lens to focus on the triple bottom line.  The triple bottom line puts profit in its proper place alongside our planet and the people who inhabit it.  So I guess you could say we’re Greenlords.  And I guess we’ll be so bold as to take credit for the term Greenlording and its definition.

 

Greenlording

verb

1: Responsible property management done by or on behalf of green-minded investors toward a green exit strategy, motivated by the triple bottom line (antonym: slumlording).

 

Don’t get me wrong, we’re not so eco-friendly-green that we’re blind to the color of money.  To the contrary, we believe that the green exit associated with greenlording is win-win, double-green (environmentally and financially beneficial), with a triple bottom line. 

 

The environmental benefits of greenlording are obvious – our tenants live in healthier homes that consume fewer resources, and put less carbon and wastewater into our air and waterways.  But there are also unique and compelling financial benefits associated with being a green-minded investor who consistently reinvests positive cash flow from investment properties into eco-friendly projects of manageable size spread out over several years. 

 

  1. Reduced Operating Costs – If you pay the utilities for your rental properties, your operating income can benefit directly from relatively small investments in energy efficiency and water conservation projects that lower utility bills.  If your properties are in an area where it is customary for the tenants to pay the utility bills, proper marketing will highlight the benefit of lower operating costs associated with such projects, which can improve the cash flow picture by enabling a higher rental rate.  In either case, projects like adding insulation, changing to low flow toilets and showerheads, and replacing worn out appliances or heating/cooling equipment with new Energy Star products can pay big dividends.  Be sure to seek out any local rebates and/or lending programs related to such improvements.
  2.  Higher Rental Revenue – Anecdotally, we’re convinced that the practice of greenlording increases rent revenue.  It just seems intuitive that homes that are proactively maintained and upgraded to become more eco-friendly over time will be easier to rent at higher rental rates than typical rental properties, all else being equal.  That said, it is difficult to find studies and data that shine a light on the impact of greenlording on occupancy and rental rates for residential properties.  No doubt such studies will be available soon.  Until then, we’re banking on the idea that residential real estate trends will track with those for commercial properties, which according to the recent study by the CoStar Group®, showed a 15% higher occupancy rate and a 8.5% higher rental rate nationally in the first quarter of 2008 for Energy Star rated properties vs. their ordinary counterparts.  Our own experience of raising rent by 9.1% at a property to which we made some very visible eco-friendly improvements in 2008 fits well with this data. 
  3. Higher Selling Price at Exit – When it comes to quantifying the benefit of greenlording on selling price, one could again extrapolate from commercial to residential using the CoStar Group® study to arrive at an estimated selling price premium for Energy Star rated properties of 26.8%.  However, industry expert Jim Amorin of the Appraisal Institute tells SmartMoney that his experience indicates an eco-friendly home typically appraises for more like 10% to 15% greater than a comparable conventional home.  Either figure should get any real estate investor’s attention. 
  4. Deferred Taxes – It’s great to have strong positive cash flow from your rental properties, and it is tempting to take that cash flow as profit in any given year.  However, similar to investing in a 401K or IRA, a mindset of reinvesting positive cash flow into eco-friendly projects allows you to defer taxes and improves the ultimate ROI of your investment property.    

 

So we’re convinced that expanding the view to see the triple bottom line will help the planet and all of us on it, while it also actually improves the conventional bottom line for green-minded real estate investors. 

 

We hope you’ll go greenlording with us!

 

Course on Green Living in Ft. Collins

February 9, 2009 Leave a comment

You’ve seen it everywhere and you want to do right by the green movement but don’t know where to start. Check out this introductory course at Front Range Community College on Resources for Greening Your Life.

In this course we’ll:

  • Review what living “green” means

  • Provide you with tools and resources to make your life more green

  • Challenge you to make a personal green resolution to get you started

  • Teach you what buying green means

  • Explore ways to make your home more green

EDUC 1043.601 Resources for Greening Your Life
Dates: Tuesdays, February 24th to March 10th, 2009
Time: 7:00 P.M. – 9:00 P.M.
Cost: $45 (includes materials)
Instructor: Ariana Friedlander
Location: Front Range Community College
Maroon Peak 104

Three easy ways to register:

  1. Online registration at www.frontrange.edu/LarimerCE

  2. Call Continuing Education at 970-204-8686

  3. Stop by Continuing Education in Mount Antero 141

 

Not So Big Living = Green Living

February 8, 2009 2 comments

One of the simplest strategies for living a greener life in a more eco-friendly home is to subscribe to the teachings of architect Sarah Susanka.  Susanka is the author of the bestselling “The Not So Big House” series, in which she makes the compelling case for choosing quality and efficiency of space over square footage.  Her upshot – a smaller, carefully planned home will always feel more comfortable and cozy than the vacuous expanses of your typical McMansion or Starter Castle.  From an environmental perspective, the benefits of not so big are obvious…a smaller home requires fewer resources and less embodied energy to build, and generally consumes less energy to heat, cool and illuminate. 

 

Dave and I live in a 1,200 square foot house built in 1952.  Now, in the interest of full disclosure, it is quite energy-inefficient (we’ll be working on that, one project at a time) and we do have a long-range plan to expand our livable square footage to approximately 1,900.  We have lots of family and friends visiting us in Colorado, and putting visitors up in my office with an inflatable mattress on the floor and sharing a single bathroom with all of them is a true test of family and friendship bonds.  Of course, we’ll be blogging about our energy efficiency improvements and sustainable remodeling project efforts along the way.

 

So if you are thinking about a new home, think about how not so big principles could help you buy or build less house than you might otherwise have done.  Better still, think about how you might implement not so big to stay in your current home and make it work for you.  In particular, Susanka’s books “Not So Big Remodeling…” and “Not So Big Solutions for Your Home” can help you be happy staying put.  Your soul and your wallet will thank you. 

 

What?  You say need room for all of your stuff?  Re-think that too.   We’ve all fallen into the trap of filling up space with stuff we rarely (if ever) use.  A move to a new home can be a great time to sort and shed stuff (be sure to google “donate used your city” to locate organizations who can put everything from eyeglasses to clothes to sports gear to vehicles to productive re-use).  It is also an excellent opportunity to start a new habit of buying and accumulating less.   Look to George Carlin for humorous inspiration .  On the serious side, consider Annie Leonard’s “The Story of Stuff”

 

So, get inspired to live larger by living not so big – dig into Sarah Susanka’s great work, and check out the quick video below which shows an example of not so big put into practice in our home.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IImDlQ3aNRU]

DIY floating floor installation: eco-friendly cork and Marmoleum®

February 7, 2009 5 comments

Installing a floating cork or Marmoleum® floor is an eco-friendly way to refresh a room (or, in our case every room in the home) with economical, durable, hypoallergenic, renewable building materials that are also uniquely beautiful.  This post highlights some of the benefits of cork and Marmoleum®, and lists top tips accumulated from my experience installing 10 rooms of cork flooring and 3 rooms of Marmoleum®.  It also includes a quick slide presentation  illustrating a range of DIY floor installations using these green building materials, and a video that follows the process step-by-step as good friends and I installed two floors at their home in Madison, Wisconsin on Super Bowl weekend (yes, we finished both floors in a weekend and still made it to a Super Bowl party).  

 

Floating cork and Marmoleum® planks have many special attributes that make them a great choice for a flooring upgrade.

 

Renewability – Cork is a renewable resource that can be harvested once every nine years from the bark of cork oak trees found in the Mediterranean region.  Marmoleum® is a natural linoleum made primarily from linseed oil extracted from the abundant flax plant, which is then mixed with pine rosins and wood flour obtained through controlled forestry.  The visible surface of a cork plank differs in construction and appearance from that of a Marmoleum® plank.  However, the remaining structure of the plank for both products consists of a renewable cork core and underlayer, between which is sandwiched a stabilizing core consisting of high density fiber (HDF).

 

Durability.  Cork planks are, perhaps counter-intuitively, very durable and resilient flooring materials.  Marmoleum®, with its rosin-bound surface, is even more durable than cork.  Three years ago, when we moved into our 1952-built house, we discovered that it had original cork flooring under very worn carpet that we planned to replace.  We were excited at first by the prospect of removing the carpet and restoring the original cork.  This would have been quite feasible were it not for a few permanent stains from liquid spills on the carpet that had damaged the cork in prominent areas, and the removal and replacement of carpet tack strips over time which had pulled up and broken cork tiles of a vintage that could no longer be replaced.  So, we did the next best thing…removed the carpet and placed a new floating cork floor over the original cork.  This floor now shows some scratches where our border collie rounds the corner into the kitchen at a high rate of speed to head outside, and there is a small dent where something heavy was dropped in the dining room – typical wear and tear that would also show up on wood floors under similar circumstances.  However, we have been so impressed with the overall value and durability of cork that we recently installed it throughout one of our rental properties, albeit a brand with a thicker profile and more coats of finish than that installed in our own home (Eco-Cork “Verde” by Natural Cork  in our home, Provincial Cork Collection “Labrador” by Westhollow Cork Flooring  in our rental property).

 

Affordability.  Prices for cork planks typically range from $3.00 to over $7.00 per square foot, depending upon manufacturer, style and source.  Marmoleum® ranges from $4.00 to $6.00 depending primarily on who you purchase it from.  These prices are comparable to mid-grade carpeting on the low end, and more premium ceramic tile or wood floors at the higher end of the range.  We sourced our Eco-Cork “Verde” style from a Natural Cork distributor in Fort Collins for $5.00 a square foot, which is very close to what our friends in Madison paid for the same brand/style of cork from a flooring store in Madison.  We sourced the Westhollow “Labrador” cork for $3.49 per square foot from www.ifloor.com.  Our friends in Madison obtained their Marmoleum® for $3.99 per square foot from Green Building Supply, free shipping included.  Google is your friend in terms of finding good deals.  Ultimately, the best decision on how to purchase will come down balancing the size of your project, material pricing, freight costs, and the benefits of buying from a local outlet verses the additional cost of doing so (if any). 

 

Hypoallergenic, non-toxic.  Cork contains the natural compound suberin, which repels mites and other insects, and also guards again rotting, mold and mildew.  It comes pre-finished with an acrylic coating, so there is no need to worry about VOC’s that could be associated with sealing it in your home after installation.  As discussed above, much of the Marmoleum® plank cross section consists of cork, and the veneer surface is a natural linoleum, so it is similarly hypoallergenic.  Neither cork or Marmoleum® trap dust and dirt, and both are extremely easy to clean, furthering their allergy-resistant nature.  Also, there are no toxic adhesives involved with installation.

 

Reusability.  A great benefit of a floating, snap-fit, tongue-and-groove flooring is that it can easily be disassembled in the future, moved to another location, and re-installed.  Try doing that with a wood floor or ceramic tile!  This aspect had special appeal for us when we were investigation flooring to replace the worn carpet in our home.  We have a long term plan to do a significant renovation in the future, and rental properties to which we could transfer any of our cork and Marmoleum® that might be replaced when that plan comes to fruition.  

 

Style.  A quick browse through the slide presentation, or the Natural Cork or Marmoleum® websites will give you a sense for the variety of looks you can achieve with cork and Marmoleum®.  The sky is truly the limit.

 

Comfort.  The cellular nature of cork, which contains a significant amount of trapped air, provides unique benefits that make it a very comfortable flooring surface.  Specifically, cork insulates and feels warm and soft underfoot.  It also deadens sound, making rooms less noisy than they would be with wood or tile floors.  Marmoleum® shares these properties due to its cork content, although the surface itself is harder than a cork surface.

 

Low-maintenance.  Manufacturers and retailers of these floor types have a variety of recommended cleaning and maintenance procedures and products.  We have found that our cork and Marmoleum® floors are easily cared for by vacuuming with a brush attachment and damp mopping from time to time (Swiffer or similar).

 

You don’t have to be a skilled tradesperson to lay these floors and have them turn out great – I’m proof of that.  For the most part, following the manufacturers instructions, watching the video and others like it available on You Tube, and applying some common sense will get you through the project trauma-free.  So rather than bore you with a step-by-step laundry list, I’ll give you a few hot tips that will make your installation go more smoothly than my first few did. 

 

Roto-ZipTM It  If you will be working up to existing trim and doorways, a Roto-ZipTM  tool with X-Shield attachment and circular blade for wood cutting is a sweet tool to add to your collection.  You can buy a bundled version with everything you need at a wide variety of retail or e-tail outlets for $150, and it will have many other great uses for future home projects.  Even if you remove base trim (be sure to remember to number or letter pieces to make replacement easier), the Roto-ZipTM will help you get clean fits around doorways and transitions.

 

Get a Simple SolutionsTM Kit.  Absolutely, positively spend $15 to get the floor tapping kit from Simple SolutionsTM.  The tapping block is much better than those available for purchase from the flooring manufacturers, the plastic shims are a great deal easier to work with than typical wood shims, and the “S-Tool” makes the otherwise difficult task of connecting edge and final corner pieces a breeze.  You can find this kit at Home Depot, Sam’s Club and the like.

 

Common Sense Floor Prep.  Manufacturers and retailers will specify a variety of subfloor preparation measures and underlayment products.  Use your good judgment here.  One of the floors we laid in Madison, where the summer climate is quite humid, was going down on backer board over slab-on-grade concrete, so we placed 4 mil polyethylene sheeting between the backer board and the Marmoleum®.  In Fort Collins’ high desert climate, I have laid several floors in slab-on-grade environments with no moisture barrier and they are performing very well. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and use underlayment.  Also, if you can make the grades work out, and you aren’t replacing carpeting, laying directly over the old flooring is a great way to keep stuff out of the landfill.

 

Plan it Twice, Lay it Once.   Just like a tile job, you will need to carefully plan your starting point and determine how your resulting edges and edge cuts will turn out.  I suggest doing this using math and measurement, and then double-checking by connecting pieces from edge to edge of the room to verify your math.

 

Watch Your Tongue…and groove condition closely.  Any pieces of debris on the tongue or within the groove will keep the planks from fitting together tightly and leave visible cracks in your floor, so make sure joining edges are debris-free before tapping.  It is also easy as the job wears on to space out a bit and tap with the wrong side of the tapping tool, which will break down the tongue or groove and have a similar effect to debris.  When (not if) this happens to you, simply take a box cutter or similarly sharp tool, restore the tongue and groove to a clean edge, and remove any fragments from within the groove.

 

Have Fun!  Working with my good friends Steve and Jana on the floors in their home, and enjoying a couple of fine Mai Bock beers from Madison’s Capital Brewery along the way definitely made floor installation enjoyable.  So pick up your favorite local brew (ideally from a sustainability-minded brewery like Odell Brewing Company  or New Belgium Brewing Company here in Fort Collins) and get corkin’.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9cMfmJOOAE]

Installing a low flow showerhead = water, energy and environmental conservation

February 4, 2009 2 comments

There are lots of good reasons to conserve water at home.  At the household level, doing so saves you money on your water, sewer and electric bill.  On a broader level, conservation measures also reduce the significant amount of energy needed to treat and deliver water – public water and wastewater treatment facilities consume enough power each year to provide electricity to 5 million homes!  Then there are the environmental conservation benefits – reducing water consumption decreases the greenhouse gas emissions related to treatment and supply, and helps preserve freshwater sources as viable aquatic habitat.

There are also lots of ways to go about conserving water at home.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has an excellent list ranging from simple changes in current habits to upgrading fixtures and appliances.

Replacing a standard showerhead with a low flow showerhead is a simple, low-cost project that can yield big water consumption savings, given that showers typically account for 17% of indoor household water use.  If your current showerhead is marked “2.5 GPM Max” (GPM means gallons per minute), it is already considered low flow.  If not, you will probably benefit from installing a new one.  There is an easy way to make sure the switch is worth the time and money you will spend.  Simply find a one gallon container, hold it beneath the existing showerhead turned on to full force (let it run for 2 minutes first), use a watch to determine how many seconds it takes to fill the container to the one gallon mark, and then determine the flow of your existing showerhead in GPM as follows:

Flow = 60 divided by number of seconds to fill to one gallon

If you don’t have a one gallon container, find a 1- or 2- quart pitcher, use your watch to determine the number of seconds to fill it, and then determine flow in GPM using this formula…

Flow = (60 divided by number of seconds to fill to 1- or 2- quart mark) divided by 4 for 1-qt or divided by 2 for 2-quart

The video below documents the replacement of a showerhead, step-by-step, at a rental property we own.  Our tenants are three Colorado State University graduate students.  The existing showerhead was quite old, and measured a wasteful 4.5 GPM flow.  We replaced it with an Oxygenics Elite Shower 700 Series low flow showerhead, with a resulting 1.25 GPM measured flow rate.  Let’s do the math on the water saved, assuming that the students each take a five-minute shower daily.

Savings = (4.25 GPM – 1.25 GPM) x 5 minutes/shower x 3 people x 365 days/year = 17,790 gallons/year!

Our tenants are very pleased with the change because it eliminates their problem of running out of hot water when they shower one right after another, which is the case most mornings, and because they can now easily adjust the pressure of the shower to their liking.

We also replaced the showerhead at our home with another brand of low flow showerhead – the Evolve Roadrunner eco-optimized showerhead – improving our measured flow rate from 2.5 GPM to 1.0 GPM.

You can find plenty of low flow showerhead options on-line, or at your favorite hardware or home improvement store.  We  sourced both showerheads from Green Irene to take advantage of their expertise researching and identifying best-value products.  We found their pricing of $34.95 for the Oxygenics head and $40.00 for the Evolve head to be competitive with e-tailer pricing.

So whether you start with a simple project like this, or simply change some habits, start conserving water soon.  Your wallet and the environment will thank you.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9V0qV4vEcY]