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New Homes Better Conserve Water
By Phillip B. Burum
Growing up in the mid-Atlantic region, I never understood the underlying premise of dystopian-themed movies that depicted a future where water was the new currency or something worth killing for. Living in the suburbs of Washington DC where a typical year includes over 100 days of rain and annual precipitation of over forty inches, the central theme of Mad Max simply didn’t resonate. Then, I moved to Southern California where it seems you can’t have a casual conversation without some expert jumping in and pontificating on the status of the current drought, typically indicating that disaster is just around the corner.
I tend to fall on the skeptical side of naysayers and doomsday predictors but, it would be foolish not to consider the protection and responsible use of our most constrained resource among the highest of priorities. Our region has experienced extraordinary growth in population over the last half century. In 1950, San Bernardino County boasted a population of 281,000 and the United States included just over 152,000,000 people. Today, San Bernardino is home to over 2,100,000 while the US has grown to just over 320,000,000. In the same span of time, the population of the country grew by just over two hundred percent while our area added 750 percent more people.
If growth is going to continue in the Baldy View region, and we are not able to count on dramatically different weather patterns, common sense mandates change in the way we plan and build for growth.
Local, regional, and statewide agencies, in the last twenty years especially, have begun to invest significantly in our water infrastructure, developing better methods to capture and store water as well as developing more recyclable water conveyance systems. But, as a region, we need to do more to protect and preserve our water supply.
In April, Americans celebrate National New Home Month. That celebration is even more important in our region as new homes are, in part, how we are addressing the need to use this invaluable resource more responsibly.
Homebuilders have introduced new technologies and new construction methodologies that have achieved great results in the past decade. Most people, observing a home from the outside or even by touring the interior, would reasonably assume that home building innovates at a near glacial speed. I will concede the notion that there are only so many ways to configure a home, although America’s builders modify floor plans and shuffle room sizes and features to keep up with the modern homebuyer’s needs and desires. The reader will need to concede that most of the homebuying public have little idea of the technological advancements that have occurred behind the paint, under the floor, or below the landscaping.
Within the home, the biggest internal users of water are; toilets, followed by showers, faucets, clothes washers and leaks within the pipes or fixtures. Exterior landscaping, however, is by far the largest offender, typically representing over 50 percent of the average daily use of a single-family home. New homes constructed today, however, feature modern materials engineered to reduce the likelihood and frequency of leaks. They also include water saving features like low flow toilets and flow restricted shower heads and tankless water heaters. Most new homes today are delivered with xeriscape landscaping or some other form of water wise plant pallet, typically including a more efficient drip irrigation system.
The descriptors used above, for most people, will not move the needle much in helping to understand why purchasing a new home is among the most environmentally friendly thing a Southern Californian consumer can do. It’s a bit like my lack of comprehension of the Road Warrior, most people accept the premise for conversation sake, but they don’t truly buy into the theme. However, when you dig into the facts and learn that the technology and innovations used to design and construct new homes today is responsible for reducing the average daily use of water per home by more than 50 percent, I am hoping the advantage of the new home begins to resonate.
Find ways to advocate for new home communities and, together, we will ensure that no one will ever have to complete in the Thunder Dome or drive down Fury Road.
The BIA Baldy View Chapter seeks to advance the opportunity to attain the American Dream of home ownership. For additional information on homebuying, home improvements or the benefits of new homeownership, go to www.biabuild.com on the web.