water conservation

Statewide LG EE Best Practices: Weekly Update

The wEEkly Update

For Local Governments and their partners

January 22, 2018


Credit: Southern Current

Credit: Inside Climate News

  Credit: Inc42

Resources and Opportunities
Energy Data Management Manual for the Wastewater Treatment Sector
Low-Income Energy Affordability Data (LEAD) Tool
New Energy Efficiency Pathway Template: Local-Led Building Efficiency
New certification now available: LEED for Cities and LEED for Communities
Find more resources and opportunities

Job Announcements

Upcoming events
Webinar: California legislative outlook 2018 - Jan 24
Webinar: Emerging Technologies: Innovative Water Heating Approaches - Jan 24
Forum: The Promise of Microgrids - Jan 25
Webinar: Beyond Hunches: Using Science to Drive Behavior Change - Jan 25
Climate Action Training Information Session - Jan. 25
Workshop: Discussion on the CEC's Proposed Implementation of the Food Production Investment Program - Jan. 26
Webinar: Creating EE Programs that Better Serve Hispanic Households - Jan 30
17th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth Conference - Feb. 1-3
2018 National Association of State Energy Officials Energy Policy Outlook Conference - Feb 6-9
2018 EPIC Symposium: Accelerating Clean Energy Innovation - Feb 7
Webinar: Using Data to Drive Low Income Energy Solutions: DOE Tool Demo and Case Studies - Feb 8
Yosemite Policymakers Conference - March 15-18
2018 Business of Clean Energy Symposium - June 4-5
Find more events

Copyright © 2018 Statewide Local Government Energy Efficiency Best Practices Coordinator, All rights reserved.
The wEEkly update for Local Governments and their partners.

Our mailing address is:
Local Government Energy Efficiency Best Practices Coordinator
980 9th St., Suite 1700
Sacramento, CA 95814

Conserving Water at Home

While the East Coast and Midwest have seen more than their fair share of rain and other precipitation over the last several months, the West Coast has seen extreme drought and numerous wildfires. Even my state of Washington is currently experiencing a “historic monster” of a fire and resources are dwindling. So, all of us up and down the West Coast need to conserve as much water at home as possible. There may be less we can control at work, grocery stores and other public areas, but at home we can (and should!) do everything in our power to minimize our water use.
Not sure if you’re doing enough or wondering what else you can do? Do not fret! I have plenty of tips below.
First, make sure nothing is leaking. Pipes and faucets are easy to check, but toilets are a little more complicated. Try this trick: put a few drops of food coloring in the tank of your toilet and do not flush! If, after a few minutes, the color has entered the toilet bowl, then it is time to call your plumber or order new parts. Also, keep anything that isn’t waste or toilet paper OUT of the toilet. Several gallons are wasted each time you flush garbage.
Once any obvious leaks are fixed, check for hidden ones. Locate your water meter, note the reading and leave all water off for a couple of hours. If the water meter reads the same a few hours later, then you are good to go. However, if you haven’t used water and your meter reads differently, you have a hidden leak somewhere. The longer leaks go without repair, the more water you waste; even a few drops every hour add up quickly.

The most important rule for conserving water is: don’t leave the water running. Turn off the water in the shower while you shave; turn off the water while you brush your teeth; turn off the water while you wash dishes. Letting the water run during these activities wastes much more than you think. You can easily leave a little bit of water in the tub or sink to rinse your razor; rinsing with running water wastes more. You only need a drop of water to wet your toothbrush before brushing and you can easily soap up dishes without leaving the faucet on (have a dish with a little water in it while you wash the other dishes).
Another good rule of thumb is to wait to run dishwashers and washing machines until you have a full load. Look into efficient dishwashers and water-saving front load washers. Water efficient appliances are not only becoming more popular, but more necessary, too. You can find anything from low flow shower heads and toilets to irrigation controllers. The EPA has great resources for water efficient, green homes. Also, for you Californians, consider the CEC’s Water Energy Technology (WET) program for water and energy saving appliances and technologies.
See how cool this looks?! If I had a lawn this would be it.
If you’re living in the Southwest and you still have a green lawn, it’s time to rip it out. Don’t waste any more time! Either let your lawn go brown or replace it with drought-resistant plants. Need some more reasons to do this? Los Angeles has a Cash for Grass program, Governor Brown has banned brown lawn fines and succulents and boulders are pretty.
Water is 100% a depletable resource, as we have daily proof. Cities are suffering and this will only continue. While we all recognize this, our situation will only get worse if we continue to talk the talk but not walk the walk. It is up to each one of us to monitor our usage and minimize it in as many aspects of our lives as we can. This is not just a suggestion, this is a call for action! In addition to doing the right thing, you’ll find yourself with a fuller wallet. Water conservation and efficiency, like energy conservation and efficiency, puts money back in your pocket and there’s absolutely nothing to dislike about that.
It’s up to you to make a change. Will you accept this challenge?

Agriculture Water Use, Consumer Practices and the Drought

California is still in a drought. Surprised? You shouldn't be; this has been all over the news for months now. The lack of ground and other water sources is concerning, and so even though Samantha and I have both written about behavior modification and the megadrought future of California, there is more to be said about what you can do and what others, especially those in agriculture, should be doing to mitigate the dry conditions in the state.

Governor Brown has cracked down on water allotments, reducing potable urban water usage by 25%. Final decisions about agricultural water use have yet to be determined. About 80% of water consumed in the state of California goes to agriculture and the state's farmers need all that water because they supply much of the country’s produce, yet the industry has already seen cutbacks on surface water allotments and will likely see more.

Some farmers in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river delta have said they will voluntarily give up 25% of their allotments if the government does not ask for additional cutbacks. This is huge because water rights in this region date back a couple of centuries and are fiercely protected.

Photo Source: econlife
The state may have a decision on the agricultural water cuts soon, but how significant the cuts will be is not known. Even though there are many farmers who have said they would take a voluntary cut, there is no way to know how many actually will and who will wait to reduce their usage when final decisions and programs are developed. Many hope that the farmers who are volunteering water cuts will inspire others to follow suit before final decisions are made.

Farmers may need to rethink their crops as well. Some crops are so water intensive that it will not make sense to grow them as the drought conditions perpetuate. One such crop is alfalfa – the reason why an excessive amount of water is needed to produce a burger. Plus, a lot of our alfalfa crops are sent to China for cattle feed, so American consumers cannot even reap the benefits!

Photo Source: Daily Kos
As a consumer, you, too, can choose to buy and eat less water intensive produce. I stopped drinking Almond milk when I learned it takes about a gallon of water to produce each almond. That is quite a guzzler! And almonds aren't even the biggest guzzler in the nut family; walnuts are far worse!

How can you figure out how much water your food takes to produce? Check out this handy interactive infographic by the New York Times and prepare yourself to be shocked. Try participating in Meatless Monday. Try millet instead of rice. We can all make a difference to mitigate the effects of the drought whether or not we live in California. When will you start?

Wax on, wax off

Photo source: Thomas Hawk, flickr

The current layer of dust enveloping my cute white Jetta had me thinking that I’m in serious need of a car wash. I used to live on the coast and recognize the importance of regular washings to protect the paint and keep that windshield clean. Living back in Fresno is a similar story but instead of salt water I battle pollen. Growing up I used to love washing the car with my dad in our front yard, but equally fun was going to Red Carpet Car Wash and trying to spot our station wagon through all the soap suds as the cars passed through the tunnel. It’s the little things, right?

Photo source: autos.aol.com
While I love most things DIY, zipping over to the car wash is much easier these days since there are drive through options at most gas stations. I was also happy to discover that this method is much greener than doing it yourself at home. Hosing down your car at home can use up to 140 gallons of water whereas commercial car washes use an average of 45 gallons per car. In addition, commercial car washes are required by law to drain their wastewater into sewers ensuring that the water plus soap (read: chemicals) gets treated properly. We all (should) know by now that water use means energy use, so leave it to the pros (unless you’re a big spender and want to install one of these babies), save water, save energy, and save an afternoon for a different DIY project. 

EE Tip From Fig & Olive: Laundry Day

Olive says, "in our house we wait until we have a FULL load of laundry before washing in order to help save energy. In addition, we like to use cooler water settings, hang clothes to dry when possible, and if we do dry we make sure not to over dry or else mommy's pants get too tight...oh, and it saves energy and money! Now, who wants to help me fold?!"

Going Green Tips: 5 Easy Things You Can Do at Home

by Ellen Bell

Going green, also known as eco friendly living, is a growing trend around the world.

Now more than ever, people are beginning to realize the impact their actions and decisions have on the world around us. Every time we get in a car, ride on a plane, or make a purchase at the grocery store, we know that energy is consumed, greenhouse gasses are created, and landfills get a little fuller.

It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the vastness of it all, but relax and take a step back. No one of us has to save the world alone. But what we can do is each take a few small steps every day. Small changes make a big difference in the grand scheme of things. With that in mind, we’re going to discuss a few easy things that you can do at home to make a big difference in the world around you.

1. Recycle. Experts agree that recycling is one of the best and easiest ways to make a difference. If every person on the planet recycled, we could reduce landfill waste and greenhouse gasses in a very significant way. Most communities have recycling programs in place already, making it easy to participate. If your city doesn’t, inquire with local officials about starting a program.

2. Don’t throw it away! We have a tendency not to think about items we throw away. They disappear from our sight, so they are out of our minds. But all those things that the garbage truck hauls away every week do have to go somewhere, and that place is a landfill. Landfills are a major cause of greenhouse gasses and ozone depletion. So next time you get ready to throw something away, ask yourself if you could possibly use the item in another way or donate it.

3. Turn off the water. U.S. households waste thousands of gallons of water every year. A significant amount of this water goes down the sink while we are brushing our teeth, washing our hair, or soaping up in the shower. Turning off the water during these activities can save a huge amount of water, which not only helps the environment, but also saves you money.

4. Ride your bicycle. For short trips around town, air up the tires and ride your bike. It will save you gas and give you some good exercise. If you don’t have a bicycle, you can walk, ride rollerblades, or even a skateboard.

5. Install low flush toilets and showerheads. This is another way to consume less water in the bathroom. Even better yet, if you’re getting ready to put in a new toilet fixture, look into composting toilets. These fixtures are clean and odorless, and will save you a significant amount of money in water and sewer costs.

While the suggestions above may seem like really small things, don’t underestimate the impact these changes can make. If every person in the United States made a conscious effort today to turn off the water while brushing their teeth or shampooing their hair, think how many millions of gallons of water would be saved!

Now multiply that over the course of 50 years, and the result is astronomical. So what are you waiting for? Now is a great time to jump on the going green bandwagon by recycling, saving some water and using less energy. The environment will benefit, and in many cases, your pocketbook will, too.

Ellen Bell is a freelance writer and part-owner of the Composting Toilet Store, an online retailer of compost toilets. For more information or to request a free catalog, please visit us at http://www.composting-toilet-store.com/. This is her first guest post for SJVCEO.

Rain Bird Offers Grants For Water-Conservation Projects

Rain Bird is giving away grants for water conservation projects to individuals, homeowners, companies, organizations, or others who wants to fund a project that helps promote conservation, sustainability and green spaces.

This grant program is unique in that the general public will be able to vote for the project they like. The proposal with the most votes (in three funding categories $1,500, $5,000, and $10,000) will receive the money.

Non-profits, homeowners, educators, landscapers, facility managers, retailers, or anyone with a water-conservation project that supports sustainability and green spaces can submit a project for funding.

No matter where in the world you live, Rain Bird, which makes irrigation products, wants to make a difference in the community, and demonstrate an intelligent use of water. People can submit multiple water conservation projects to the site at http://www.iuowawards.com/, and then vote on projects as well.

Votes are anonymous, and people can vote for as many projects they want per day (but they can only vote once per project per day). The email for questions etc. is LFox@iuowawards.com, or tech@iuowawards.com.

(image by lawnsprinklersolution.com)

Home builder tests water efficient housing

A Los Angeles home builder has embraced water conservation, at least on a trial basis.

KB Homes has partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, building the first homes in the nation to be certified by the agency's WaterSense program, agency officials reported. The four homes are in Roseville, Calif. and are expected to help families save 20 percent over the run of the mill home, or an average of 10,000 gallons of water and at least $100 on utility costs each year.

“The construction of the first WaterSense labeled homes, and the plans to build more, mark the beginning of an innovative approach that gives homeowners the chance to cut their water and energy bills and protect a vital environmental resource.” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, in a statement.

The program, which seeks to help home buyers cut their water and energy use, serves as another indication of where the industry appears to be headed. Energy efficiency and water conservation are big in California and gaining prominence throughout the West and South where water allocation issues appear to be cultivating nothing less than high anxiety.

I'm reminded of Jack Nicholson in the movie "China Town," in which John Huston, as villain Noah Cross, says, "Either you bring the water to L.A. or you bring L.A. to the water."

It's all about water. Was then and it is now.

Frank Ferral, who heads the Recycling Energy Air Conservation program for the Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce, has been spreading the conservation message to business -- and anybody else who will listen -- for the better part of the past decade. His point is relatively simple: Saving energy and water and keeping waste out of the trash makes economic sense.

Hundreds of businesses have signed up for his program in which a team of experts goes through a building and identifies areas that can benefit from installation of energy efficient lighting, water saving devices and waste diverting practices. The REACON program in Stockton has helped develop an industry manufacturing products out of former debris.

With a recent grant, Ferral has been expanding his program and message throughout California's Central San Joaquin Valley. His concept has been to team up with chambers of commerce and offer them up the team energy audit concept so the chambers can provide it as a value-added product to members.

I tagged along on a couple of audits in Fresno, one at a bank and another at a business in an old downtown building. The lighting expert said he could get immediate savings of about 20 percent on the bank and more than 30 percent on the older building. The water savings were more basic, adding a 1.2-gallon flush toilet among other measures.

The EPA has entered into a consumer friendly realm with its WaterSense site, which offers tips and quantifies retrofit measures. Each of its WaterSense houses includes aptly labeled plumbing fixtures, an efficient hot water delivery system, water-efficient landscape design and other water and energy-efficient features.

EPA officials estimate that if the approximately 500,000 new homes built last year had met WaterSense criteria, the homes would save Americans 5 billion gallons of water and more than $50 million in utility bills annually.

Yeah, it's in the water.