ByDebra Atlas

Mar 25, 2015

Let these water usage stats soak in for a moment.

  • Americans use 127 percent more water than in 1950.
  • The average family of four uses 400 gallons of water daily, approximately 70 percent of which is used indoors. About 95 percent of that clean, drinkable water goes down the drain. Over a quarter of it flushes toilets.
  • Approximately 70 percent of home wastewater comes from washing machines, toilets, and sinks.

Now, imagine the savings if we captured and reused 70 percent of that water!

Home bathroom
Image courtesy of GranitArchitects.

U.S.-Australian Nexus eWater Inc. has developed a greywater recycling system that captures most household wastewater, sends it to storage tanks, then reuses it.

Lancaster, a town in southern California, has embraced the Nexus eWater Recycler as part of its goal to become America’s first net-zero city.

Recycle Redux

The eWater Recycler gets the biggest bang for the buck with new residential construction, said Ralph Petroff, the company’s Chairman, and co-founder. Requiring two sets of plumbing piping. this “recycled-ready plumbing” adds $1,000 to $3,000 to the total cost of the build.

“For a few thousand, you have the potential to save so much down the road,” Petroff said.

And the savings are considerable.

The device recycles every two out of three gallons of water and three out of every four watts of water-heating energy.

An energy-efficient home with low-flow showerheads, toilets, and faucets typically saves around 50,000 gallons of water per year. One with an integrated eWater system would save another 50,000 gallons per year.

“That’s around 100,000 gallons of water saved per year,” said Craig LeMessurier, spokesperson for KB Home, a leader in building energy and water efficient homes.

KB Home utilizes the eWater Recycler in some of its demonstration homes.

Priding itself on developing and/or introducing cutting-edge technology, after looking for a partner for a water recycling system, KB discovered Nexus Water.

Nexus eWater Recycler
Nexus eWater Recycler. Image courtesy of Nexus eWater Inc.

Substantial Savings

In 2014, KB built its Lancaster demonstration home, which featured the eWater Recycler. KB recently opened a second home, called “Double ZeroHouse 3.0”. near Sacramento, California.  An earlier demonstration home built in southern California, ZeroHouse 2.0, produces as much energy as it uses. The newer home’s net-zero emphasis focuses on energy and water savings.

“The total monthly savings on utility bills (water and energy) with the Double ZeroHouse, compared to a typical resale home of the same size, is approximately $375 a month or $4,500.00 annually,” said Cabral. “That’s about $135,000 in savings over the length of a 30-year mortgage,” he said.

Water used in KB’s demonstration homes is usually recycled and reused for toilets. In the Lancaster demonstration home, it’s used to irrigate the landscape.

“It can be used either or both (ways) at the same time,” LeMessurier said.

A Better Built Home

In November 2014, Lancaster’s Mayor R. Rex Parris announced that beginning January 1, 2015, all new residential construction in Lancaster would have “recycle-ready” plumbing that would allow homeowners to connect a water and energy recycling device. This would be part of Lancaster’s Better Built Home Program, part of the city’s long-term strategy towards reaching net-zero.

This incentivized Program introduces builders to environmentally smart features they can include in-home construction with little to no risk to themselves. New home builders receive a 25 percent discount on city-imposed impact fees if they incorporate certain environmental features in their homes.

Lancaster is the first city in California to offer financial incentives for onsite water recycling.

Completely voluntary, the program is available for residential building permit applications submitted between January 1, 2015, and December 31, 2016.

Nexus eWater recycling system
Nexus eWater recycling system. Image courtesy of Nexus eWater Inc.

The city has worked in the alternative energy arena for the past five years, said Joe Cabral, Lancaster’s Communication Manager. “We’re now are about 55 percent of the way to net zero,” he said.

We’ve tried to be on the forefront, said Brian Ludicke, Lancaster’s Planning Director, especially with new residential construction.

“Cities can do a lot of leading, a lot of encouraging and allowing,” Ludicke said, “but the private sector has to be the ones to adopt a lot of those.”

Currently, Nexus’ eWater Recycler is only available in KB Home demonstration homes in California.

“The need is greatest in California,” said Petroff.

Nexus just became the first company to obtain the NSF/ANSI Global Certification for Residential Grey Water Treatment. This will allow KB Home to offer this technology to communities across the country.

“This is a greywater system for the 21st century and for 21st-century homeowners,” said Petroff.

“It’s affordable, it’s reliable and it’s here today.”

Feature image courtesy of GranitArchitects

By Debra Atlas

As an environmental journalist, blogger, professional speaker and radio personality, Debra Atlas lights the way to let consumers discover exciting, useful green products that won’t make their checkbooks implode. A member of the Society of Environmental Journalists, she is a frequent contributor to environmentally focused publications and conferences.