While there were lots of highlights at Greenbuild, the only way I can really be productive at such a big conference is to narrow my focus. I'm researching water conservation and water efficiency for an upcoming EBN feature article, and I made great progress on that in Chicago. First, there was doubtless lots of water saved here by not having drinking water readily available. The water jugs were often empty (and even when they still had some water in them, I have a hard time using those high-density polystyrene cups so I would go looking for a drinking fountain and usually get into a conversation before finding one)—so there was doubtless a bit of water savings here! At least there were none of those PET water bottles in the conference facility! Rachel Navaro and I had great conversations with water efficiency experts John Koeller of Yorba Linda, California and Bill Hoffman of Austin, Texas before their presentations Thursday afternoon. In the conversation with John we were joined by Mary Ann Dickinson, executive director of the brand-new Alliance for Water Efficiency (based here in Chicago). AWE opened its doors this summer as the first and only national organization focused on water conservation and water efficiency. You'll be hearing more about AWE in the forthcoming feature article. There were also lots of water-conserving products exhibited on the huge exhibit floor. Unfortunately, my available time in the expo was limited, but I did get a chance to visit with the manufacturers of several cool water-saving products. Some highlights: Sloan Valve Company's new eighth-gallon urinal was rolled out, as was their AQUS graywater system that collects wastewater from a sink and sends it to the fill-valve of a toilet next to it. And I finally got a chance to learn from the founder and president of EcoTech Water about their retrofit non-liquid check-valve for waterless urinals, their new 0.8-gallon pressure-assist toilet, and really interesting work they have been doing on air conditioning condensate recovery—that is enabling some buildings to almost disconnect the water-supply lines into the buildings. I still have lots more to learn and would love input to hear from anybody reading that knows about innovative incentives and regulations to encourage water efficiency and water conservation—things like retrofit-on-rebate and demand-offset programs. Send comments to
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