Rainwater Harvesting Provides Opportunities in Green Plumbing

Passive and active systems can be used in new construction or residential upgrades.
Rainwater Harvesting Provides Opportunities in Green Plumbing
Shawn Gray

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In the modern world, the practice of rainwater harvesting has slowly diminished. It is easier to get water out of your faucet than out of the sky. And yet, the demand for clean drinking water is ever-growing. Existing supplies in certain areas are taxed, making it harder to find new freshwater supplies, in turn increasing interest by residents and businesses in considering alternatives, including harvesting rainwater.

Regardless of necessity or personal preference, the interest in rainwater harvesting provides opportunity for professionals to expand further into green plumbing by offering services during the bid process of new construction or by offering a water conservation solution for homeowners looking to upgrade.

Passive and active systems

Rainwater harvesting can be achieved in various ways. Passive systems catch water runoff from landscapes or parking lots, and in active systems it is collected from a roof or other hardscape. Both types of systems can be used in not only residential and commercial settings but also utilized in parks, schools, parking lots and right-of-ways for streets; stormwater management areas; agriculture and livestock areas; and any other type of area where you have rainwater runoff.  

Types of systems that can be utilized for harvesting also vary. Certain systems are highly visible and can be incorporated into the landscape or design of a building or home, while others can be hidden, whether underground or inside a building structure.

Rainwater that has been properly filtered and stored can be practically used for any type of water need throughout a residence or business. However, state regulations vary on allowable use.

The American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA) has put together design and installation standards that have been incorporated into the IAPMO Green Plumbing & Mechanical Code Supplement of the Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) and the International Green Construction Code of the International Plumbing Code (IPC). States will refer to their reference plumbing code (either IPC or UPC) and can be expected to incorporate these new standards over the next three years.

State regulations

You will want to make sure you have a clear understanding of your state’s regulations. Some states allow for water to be used for potable purposes and others don’t. To learn more about your state's regulations two websites with great resources are:

The opportunities in rainwater harvesting and green plumbing are just beginning to grow, making it an ideal time to learn more about the role it can play in conservation and benefits for clients.

About the author: Shawn Gray is business manager and financial secretary for Plumbers Local 55. He has been a business representative for nine years and has been a member of Plumbers Local 55 for 23 years. Learn more at clevelandplumbingindustry.com.


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