The Path to a Greener Plumbing Industry
The PlumbSmarter project asked Victoria's 20,000 plus plumbers and other industry stakeholders for their feedback and ideas about water and energy saving, and the industry responded with wide-ranging suggestions and comment. These contributions have been collated into eight opportunity plans, as shown below.
- Sustainability as the everyday work of plumbers - achieving a stronger integration of sustainability assistance in the everyday work of all plumbers. Plumbers thought this could take place through incentives, better access to information about sustainability, being provided with sustainability giveaways (like showerheads), training and PIC technical support.
- Sustainability skills for Victorian plumbing - achieving an increased supply of sustainability skills was also raised. The industry wants stronger incorporation of sustainability in the core training, accreditation and ongoing skills development of plumbers, along with increased numbers of plumbers.
- Innovation gateway - a number of industry participants are keen to see a clearer regulatory environment and a reformed process for introducing new sustainability products and practices into plumbing systems.
- Knowledge bank - a range of industry people put forward the idea of creating an easily accessible and high profile storehouse of sustainability information tailored to the needs of Victorian plumbers and their customers. It could include objective information about sustainability options, best practice examples, guidelines, performance standards and water/energy savings versus costs calculators.
- Hot water systems - the PlumbSmarter survey clearly showed the industry wants to address changing energy sources and more efficient delivery of heated water.
- Fire sprinklers - another opportunity is researching and implementing processes that reduce the high amount of water used in the weekly testing of automatic fire sprinkler systems in buildings. This is being actively pursued by the PlumbSmarter team, in conjunction with the Victorian Building Commission, water authorities, the fire protection industry and other stakeholders.
- Swimming pools - several industry participants pointed out that evaporation and backwashing will typically consume about 20,000 litres per year if a pool is uncovered. If 100,000 Victorian pools use 20,000 litres of mains water per year, two billion litres of drinking water is being lost annually. It is being consumed for a purely recreational purpose. Requirements to offset everyday water loss by swimming pools through covers, rainwater capture or other counter-measures may be needed.
- Sustainable plumbing system designs - a number of contributors believed all plumbers, including those doing standard domestic plumbing, should give more consideration to the environmental impacts of their work, when planning their jobs. Best-practice sustainability designs for common plumbing jobs should be developed and promoted.
The opportunity plans and the 50 action steps within them constitute strong strategies for change in Victoria's plumbing industry. By working together to achieve the opportunity plans, the plumbing industry, its suppliers and its other stakeholders can make a leading contribution to solving the climate change challenges facing our community. Victoria's plumbing industry has already taken innovative steps to improve the environmental sustainability of plumbing work, but the water and energy issues facing the state demand further and faster gains. The opportunity plans were compiled in the Plumbsmarter report: The Path to a Greener Plumbing Industry.
Download a copy of the Plumbsmarter report: Path to a Greener Plumbing Industry.