Texas has been suffering through a historical drought. Lawns are turning brown, trees are dying and foundations are moving. The city has been rationing; we are no longer free to water wilting plants unless it’s a designated day.
I have a low-flow shower head, and I’ve been showering with this bucket for a while. (And yes, I can see that this weekend I need to clean my shower!) I’m thankful for the small size of my house – it’s not too far from the master bath to the backdoor. My shower water benefits some thirsty plant each day – my grapefruit tree looks great. One weekend I decided to see if my son’s bath water could be used to wash my car. It takes half a tub of water to wash a car – not too bad. The rest of the water gave most of the plants in my front yard beds some relief. It’s a lot of work carrying a large bucket of water, and it’s a bit awkward. But it made me think – how many people in the history of humanity had to carry water – most. And as for the awkwardness of the bucket handle cutting into my fingers; it’s a reminder of how we take for granted resources that at one time had to be physically handled, carried, stored, etc.. We readily consume what is delivered to us; all the work has been removed.
I think there’s a loss to the disconnection of physical labor and resources. (Of course there are plenty of gains too – we live with the benefit of so many things that extend our lives and increase our well being) But the down side is a loss of value - spend part of a morning hauling water, and you may think a little differently about the preciousness of water. The ease of consumption should not be confused with the value of what we are consuming - but maybe it is.
Water conservation is a big part of designing a green home. There are basically three main considerations: Indoor water use, irrigation efficiency, and rainwater catchment. It’s a basic list, and not hard to accomplish. But the trick is to keep sight of water conservation while you are making all the decisions that go into a home. Fortunately there are now lots of low flow fixtures to choose from. If you are truly dedicated to water conservation you can add gray water use to the list. (Yes, you can also just use a bucket as your gray water system.)
If rainwater catchment is a priority, this is something you should consider early in the design process, especially if you want to be able to capture every bit of water from a roof. Developing the roof plan is part of the preliminary design process. Considering areas of roof and how the water will be captured, along with the aesthetics of the home will play a big part on the overall design of a home. Choose simple roof lines, which can also mean a simple footprint shape.
It finally rained in Houston this past weekend – and I wish I had put rain barrels in place. With a full gutter system on my ranch home, along with a leaf guard system, I already have an ideal set up. It’s a weekend project for this fall. We are so accustomed to having too much water, the drought is a reminder that local climates can quickly change drastically. Be prepared.
And here’s something else to keep in mind – a simple roof plan also is ideal for the installation of solar panels. If you are thinking about saving water and using renewable energy – be sure to start with the roof design.
Posted: 10/18/2011 6:33:09 PM by
Mary Kestner | with 0 comments