19 January 2010

Cracking the Stereotype: Green Plumbing

Excerpt from G Magazine, 11 January 2010

'Think 'plumber' and most of us picture the ubiquitous plumbers' crack. But with the advent of sustainability and an increased emphasis on water conservation, plumbers have evolved beyond traditional understandings of their trade into water-savvy professionals.

Add to this the introduction of an array of new water-saving technologies - waterless urinals, solar hot water heaters and greywater treatment systems just to name a few - and the local plumber is certainly a valuable bridge on the road to sustainability.

Brent Papadopolous [of] Melbourne-based Sustainable Plumbing Solutions [says]:

"The modern plumber has evolved because of sustainability. Water and energy are such precious resources now and plumbers are on the front line when it comes to educating consumers.

"We've had to re-train, re-think and re-educate ourselves and everyone around us to provide the eco-plumbing services that are required. Nowadays we are required to perform different types of work - it's not the old fashioned unblocking toilets and working with sewer pipes, it's a different form of trade work altogether."

The burgeoning sustainable plumbing industry consists of companies whose entire business is devoted to green plumbing work. Many of these green plumbers are passionate about saving water and keen to act as pioneers of new technologies that are continually appearing on the market. They are installing blackwater treatment systems, connecting entire homes to rainwater and even greening the operation of their businesses by recycling, using renewable energy and harvesting rainwater.

So how does a blue-collar worker become green? Training is the obvious answer, and nowadays everyone from an apprentice plumber fresh out of school to the old bloke with 30 years experience on the tools has access to a sustainable education.

Green Plumbers is a well-known trade initiative that runs free, nationally-recognised training courses for registered plumbers seeking to hone their environmental skill set. There are upwards of 6,000 accredited Green Plumbers in Australia today.

They are trained in home heating and cooling appliances, hot water heating, solar hot water, water conservation and sustainability, water recycling including rain water tanks, greywater and septic tanks.

"The Green Plumbers organisation puts the community in touch with Green Plumbers in their local area. It provides people with a list of plumbers in their region who have gone to the courses, been trained, and can provide sustainable services," Papadopolous says.

Apprenticeship programs around the country are gradually being updated to include sustainable plumbing modules, signalling a move towards the mainstream for this new style of plumbing.
Many in the industry believe that in the very near future every plumber will be a green plumber first and an ordinary plumber second; such is the changing nature of the trade.

Sustainable plumbing requires a totally different approach from you and your tradie. Rather than contacting your local plumber to repair a faulty hot water service or toilet, sustainable principles necessitate advanced planning and a sound eco-strategy.

So before your hot water service wears out you might contact your plumber to discuss the merits of installing a solar hot water system. Or you might have dual-flush toilets and low-flow showerheads fitted.

"Green plumbing takes time and consideration - it's not something that plumbers can just come and give a 30 second quote on. I personally sit down with clients and work through all the different options and scenarios and try to find something best suited to their home," Papadopolous says.

"Plumbers need to understand all the latest and greatest products that are out there because the industry is moving at an extremely fast pace."

He says plumbers are most in demand when it comes to installing rainwater tanks, reflecting a forward thinking approach from homeowners that ties in well with the ethos of sustainable plumbing.

"By far the most popular installation is rainwater harvesting. Even when it rains, people think about capturing water rather than assuming that nature will provide."...

Visit www.greenplumbers.com.au to find a Green Plumber in your local area.'

1 comment:

  1. I the introduction of 'green technology/methadology' specific training into current plumbing courses to equip those plumbers coming into the market to be able to deal with the installation and recommendation of these kinds of products and, hopefull, they will be able to contribute to the enhancement of this newly burgeoning part of the trade.


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