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Water Conservation and Our Homes

Last week, at the NAHB (National Assn. of Home Builders) IBS (Intl. Builders Show), sustainability in our homes was a big focus for many. Case in point: water conservation in our homes.

Lack of safe water is threatening roughly one-third of the world’s population, which is roughly 2.2 billion people. Sadly, every 37 seconds a person dies from a preventable waterborne illness, totaling more than 2,300 per day, and 800,000 each year. While this is a huge global challenge, there is a solution. As a society we have an ethical and moral responsibility to be more mindful of our water consumption.

The Global Water Center is touring the nation and demonstrating how to address this global water crisis. Such was the case at IBS last week, where it offered an experiential journey on more than 25,000-sq.ft., of exhibit space. The experience tells the stories of water in our world, which are shown through various mediums including AR (augmented reality), an immersive 360-degree theater, interactive content, and RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology.

The experiences covered three major themes. First, water is life, which explores the uniqueness of water on Earth and highlights an expansive motor-sensor wall with which visitors may engage to reveal natural environments and wildlife.

Second, water and people, which reveals almost every aspect of life that is impacted by water. It details the advantages and opportunities of reliable access to abundant, safe water and the obstacles presented by water scarcity, and/or unsafe water. It also featured the Water Challenge game to test visitors’ knowledge of safe water issues and provided other educational interactive experiences.

Finally, safe water for everyone uses augmented reality to highlight how the best technologies and plans help secure sources of safe water. With interactive digital touch tables, this showcases people that have risen from poverty to attain well-being when provided access to safe water.

While there are steps governments need to take to bring safe water to all, there are also steps we can take as consumers to be more mindful of how much water we are using in our homes. We can leverage water-saving technologies to help conserve one of Earth’s most precious resources.

Technologies can help remind us to check plumbing fixtures and irrigation systems for leaks each year, as an example. There are huge opportunities both inside and outside our homes. Of the estimated 29 billion gallons of water used daily by households in the U.S., nearly 9 billion gallons, or 30%, is devoted to outdoor water use. In the hot summer months, or in dry climates, a household’s outdoor water use can be as high as 70%, according to the U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).

There are huge opportunities to conserve here. The EPA suggests the average family spends $1,100 per year in water costs but can save $350 from retrofitting with WaterSense labeled fixtures and ENERGY STAR qualified appliances. A full-sized ENERGY STAR certified clothes washer uses 13 gallons of water per load, compared to the 23 gallons used by a standard machine. That’s more than 3,000 gallons of water, per year. WaterSense labeled products are backed by independent third-party certification and meet EPA’s specifications for water efficiency and performance.

Water conservation was a big topic of conversation at IBS—and it will continue to be a big topic of conversation in the year to come. What steps are you taking to reduce consumption in your home?

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