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Know How Plumbing Materials Can Impact the Environment

By: Jonathan Simon on September 18th, 2017

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Know How Plumbing Materials Can Impact the Environment

FlowGuard Gold® CPVC

When considering the systems that contribute to a “high performance” home, environmental performance and energy efficiency might come to mind. This can lead builders to focus on building systems most commonly associated with energy and the environment, such as insulation, appliances and HVAC, however plumbing systems can influence several critical components of home performance that are important to today’s home buyer. These impacts not only include environmental performance, but can extend further to cover water quality and human health issues.

In 2013, research by the Home Innovation Research Labs found that three key elements were important to homeowners when shopping for a new home:

  • A healthy place to live
  • Lower operating costs
  • A contribution to a sustainable lifestyle

A subsequent survey of homebuyers conducted by Lubrizol in 2015 showed that 49% of homebuyers considered “minimal environmental impact” to be an important factor when selecting a plumbing piping system.

With that in mind, builders who are concerned about satisfying their environmentally minded customers should consider how the plumbing systems in their homes contribute to a healthy place to live, lower operating costs and a sustainable lifestyle.


Download the Environmental Impact Comparison: CPVC vs. PEX Life Cycle Analysis


A Healthy Place to Live

Plumbing systems carry essential drinking water that is consumed by families every day, as a result they are a critical part of ensuring a healthy home. With water contamination issues being given significantly more attention in the wake of the Flint, Michigan water crisis it’s important to understand how plumbing systems interact with the water.

As we move toward more water efficient homes, drinking water remains stagnant in our systems for longer which can increase the risk of dangerous bacterial growth such as e.Coli and legionella. Multiple studies from around the world have demonstrated that over the life of the system, PEX and copper materials demonstrate a higher risk of bacterial growth than CPVC materials such as those used in a FlowGuard Gold Plumbing System.

Plumbing systems can also influence human health in other ways, including permeation and leaching as well as life cycle human health impacts. According to data published by the US Department of Commerce NIST BEES database, when compared to PEX, CPVC materials demonstrate a 21% lower lifecycle human health, cancer toxicity and a 29% lower human health, non-cancer toxicity.

Additional data from the BEES data shows that CPVC outperforms PEX by 7-9% in 8 out of 9 traditional environmental categories including Ecological Toxicity, Smog, Air Pollution, Fossil Fuel Depletion and Global Warming Potential.


Lower Operating Costs

Many homeowners look to their bottom line when considering environmental performance and the term “payback period” has become commonplace in environmental engineering. The good news is that FlowGuard Gold Plumbing System materials actually costs less than a PEX or copper system – even leading PEX manufacturers acknowledge that FlowGuard Gold materials cost half that of a PEX system and a third of a copper system. Even better is that data indicates that a FlowGuard Gold CPVC system could actually result in lower operating costs when compared to a PEX system as well. These savings come in the form of reduced water and energy waste in a hot water system.

In a 2011 Life Cycle Inventory of residential plumbing systems conducted by Franklin Associates, a division of ERG, it was found that CPVC systems demonstrated 5% less energy waste than PEX and 17% less energy waste than copper. The same study found that a CPVC system wasted 30% less water than a copper system and conserved 10-15% more water than a PEX system.

These findings are most likely due to the differences in thermal conductivity between copper, CPVC and PEX materials. While copper has a thermal conductivity hundreds of times higher than plastic materials, CPVC has a thermal conductivity less than half that of PEX, resulting in a calculated R-value for a CPVC pipe that is at least 2.3 times higher than for a PEX pipe.


Contribution to a Sustainable Lifestyle

While the data on environmental performance is important, some homebuyers want additional assurance that the products used in their homes truly contribute to a sustainable lifestyle. For that reason, the FlowGuard Gold team has taken steps to ensure environmental transparency, including the plumbing pipe industry’s first ISO compliant, 3rd party cradle-to-grave Life Cycle Assessment and detailed environmental product reports, to demonstrate product environmental performance.

Because of this and our favorable environmental performance when compared to copper and PEX, FlowGuard Gold CPVC is the only residential NGBS Green Certified plumbing piping system and contributes to both LEED and NGBS credits.


FlowGuard Gold Plumbing Systems – The Environmentally Friendly Choice

More and more homeowners are looking for high performance and healthy homes that are built to last. As a builder seeking to deliver on these demands, it’s important to consider the high impact systems in a home – those that deal with both the air we breathe and the water we drink.

For the environmentally conscious home builder and home buyer – the choice is clear: FlowGuard Gold Plumbing Systems reliably deliver the highest, most environmentally friendly performance among the available alternative plumbing materials.

Need help changing your specification, or want to learn more? Contact us to talk to a representative about how FlowGuard Gold Plumbing Systems can help you meet your buyers’ needs.


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