Green Plumbers Combat Climate Change

Back in the day, when I thought about green plumbers, the famed video game character, an Italian plumber named Luigi, came to mind. But while his hat and suspenders may have been green in color, he fought fanged mushrooms and evil turtles, not inefficient water use and global climate change—and that, it turns out, is what real green plumbers do.

Though they lack super mushrooms inducing gigantism, flowery fireballs, and bouncing stars granting temporary invincibility, GreenPlumbers® have an impressive arsenal:

– They conduct water audits in homes, identifying how much water is used and how much can be saved.
– They replace water-guzzling, leaky toilets, wasteful faucets, and shabby irrigation equipment with high efficiency models.
– They install and maintain water efficient systems like rainwater catchment and greywater systems.

For all their hard work, GreenPlumbers® recently received a 2009 EPA Pacific Southwest Environmental Award.

In the Pacific Southwest, extracting, conveying, treating, distributing, and using water, and then collecting and treating wastewater uses a lot of energy. In California, for example, 20% of the State’s electricity use and 30% of their natural gas use is attributed to water use. EPA estimates 3% of national energy consumption– equivalent to approximately 56 billion kilowatt hours (kWh)–is used for drinking water and wastewater services. Assuming the average mix of energy sources in the country, this adds about 45 million tons of greenhouse gas to the atmosphere.

By reducing water use, green plumbers reduce the amount of water flowing through our inefficient water infrastructure to directly reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

My perception of plumbers has been transformed, thanks to these amazing, award-winning Green Plumbers. You can join me in finding certified GreenPlumbers® and learning about their national training and accreditation program at

About the author: Charlotte Ely spent two years jumping from office to office through the Environmental Intern Program. She landed in EPA’s Pacific Southwest Sustainable Water Infrastructure and Climate Change program in the fall of 2008, and plans to stay put for a while.

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