A More Sustainable Plumbing Pipe for Eco-Conscious Home Owners

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Celebrating and preserving the planet goes far beyond Earth Day. In fact, home owners are now often seeing the value in energy-efficient and sustainable homes.

The 2018 National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Sustainability Resource Guide reports 61% of surveyed members said their clients are interested in sustainability.And according to research from NAHB, energy efficiency tops the list of green features buyers want in their homes.

Home owners’ increasingly eco-conscious mindset should encourage builders to prioritize sustainable home solutions. One easy way to make a home build more eco-friendly is to simply use a pipe type better suited to balance the three pillars of sustainability — environment, economic and social impacts — according to the EPA.

PEX: A More Sustainable Pipe

PEX — cross-linked polyethylene — has not only provided a reliable plumbing solution in the U.S. for more than 35 years, but it also has the potential to provide a more sustainable one.

PEX and its Environmental Impact

Overall, PEX has a lower environmental impact than a common alternative, such as copper pipe, according to a life cycle inventory report for the Plastic Piping Education Foundation.

Making PEX doesn’t require the extraction of natural resources, nor does it take much energy to manufacture. And since polyethylene is a non-conductor with insulation properties, PEX plumbing systems require less energy and water volume than other pipe systems to achieve a desired water temperature. This can positively influence utility bills and operating costs, which are top home features NAR members said were most important to clients, according to the 2018 NAR Sustainability Resource Guide.

In fact, buyers are willing to invest in features that help lower their utility bills, NAHB reports. The average buyer will even pay more than $9,000 more upfront for a home to save $1,000 annually on utility costs.

Keeping utility bills reasonable goes hand-in-hand with conserving water. One way to achieve this is to integrate a smart home leak detector into the PEX system. Not only does the device alert home owners to potential leaks, but some models, such as the StreamLabs Control, can also provide water usage insights for more conscious consumption and remote water shut-off so less water is wasted with leaks.

At the end of its life cycle, PEX can also be repurposed. It’s usually ground up and used as a filler in composite lumber, playground equipment, traffic barriers and more.

PEX and its Economic Impact

PEX comes at a fixed cost, not at fluctuating daily prices like other piping materials. The pipe’s flexibility can also reduce the number of elbows needed during installation, saving contractors money. The labor time required to install other piping materials can be costly too. However, a push-to-connect PEX system, such as SharkBite EvoPEX, is quicker to install.

PEX also has several features that gives it a long product lifespan, which reduces costs, increases customer satisfaction and lessens waste.

  • It’s immune to corrosion and mineral buildup and isn’t affected by electrolysis.
  • PEX has a predicted life expectancy of 50 years per PPI TR-3.
  • It’s available with the highest-rated chlorine resistance and six-month UV resistance to combat risk of premature failure.
  • PEX provides more resistance to bursting in freezing conditions due to pipe flexibility.

PEX and its Social Impact

PEX doesn’t typically have the health and safety concerns as other piping materials. It doesn’t require soldering, which can present a safety hazard during installation. Additionally, it’s resistant to leaching, pitting and mineral buildup, according to the American Chemistry Council.

PEX is also well positioned to address the labor shortage. It’s compatible with push-to-connect plumbing systems that make repairs and installations faster, safer and more reliable for both experienced and new plumbers.

Reliance Worldwide Corporation (RWC) is a market leader and manufacturer of water control systems and plumbing solutions for residential, commercial and industrial applications. The RWC portfolio includes industry-leading brands: SharkBite® push-to-connect plumbing solutions; HoldRite® engineered plumbing and mechanical solutions; Cash Acme® control valves; John Guest® fittings and fluid dispense products and StreamLabs® smart water technologies.

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