Low VOC & Water Conservation
This is the right thing to do!
Most all materials put off an odor as it dries. Some of these are chemical based and can have a slight toxicity to them to some people more than others. The term is VOC or Volatile Organic Compounds. One that always reminds me of "That can't be good" is lacquer used to finish stained wood. Well in our quest as a world we have developed many alternatives to these VOC's used in the building business. Many tradesmen still argue that they aren't what they used to be; but it is the right thing to do. These items are a little more expensive today and still not a normal business as usual item; however we are committed to the Low or "0" VOC's in everything especially inside materials.
Water is one of our most precious resources and we need to conserve and manage our water. Sometimes we just take for granted that when we turn on the spigot, that it will flow. There is still a lot to do in this area. First I will tell you what we do today and then what coming on as it becomes affordable.
We currently use low water fixtures through out your home. 1-1/2 gallon per minute shower heads and 1.6 gallon flush water closets (commodes). I have been most impressed with the water closets. I have found some brands that use a wide throat and it is incredible what it can flush with just 1.6 gallons of water and it is getting better. Dual flushes are now available affordably but will take some new habits on your part. We have also been using what they call a Manifold System for our water delivery system. This is a method that is both an energy savings as well as being water a conservation item. Manifolds are a splitting of the water lines and running a single pipe that is properly sized to the valve that it is serving from the source. I have been using this system to control the time it typically takes Hot Water to get to your bathroom and to control the ability to shut off outside faucets without shutting down the house. We also use them to isolate a single bathroom so that if there is a problem in the future you can shut down a single bathroom and still go about your normal activities without the problem being an emergency. What a neat system! We use a modified system whereby the idea is to achieve my comments above, 1st priority is to deliver hot water with the least amount of waste water the fastest to that particular fixture. An extreme example is a vanity 100 ft from the water heater, we can deliver hot water in approximately 14 seconds and waste no more than 1/2 gallon of water. Not bad, but for those of you that want faster delivery and almost "0" waste there is an additional expense and system by which I can turn on a circulating pump in that bathroom only when you are in that bathroom and push hot water into the cold water tube. The result is near instant hot and near "0" waste.
While we are on the subject of Hot water we need to address water heaters. Many a misgivings are circulating about "On-Demand Water Heaters". There are 2 types, gas and electric. Both work essentially the same way with different utilities. The biggest problem that I encountered in trying to use these water heaters is the volume of water needed to start the heating process. You might have to turn your faucet on near full blast to get it started and besides both are very pricy. I have returned to the standard water heater and would recommend the Heatpump Water Heater as an upgrade. Its energy label is 250.00/ year which is 1/2 a typical water heater.
The water stradegy that still needs to be addressed is Gray water systems and Rainwater collection. These 2 items are very worthy of moving into, but are a little pricy and there are some limitations on how they are installed and what they can service. Every home site has particular needs and if fresh water is an issue at your new home site then these 2 items jump to the front of the line and are available.