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Green Headaches

Larry Weingarten
Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,230
That is exactly what I did building my place. There does seem to be a lot of iffy "science" around what PVC does and doesn't do. Does it really leach into water? How much? What about the cement used? Doesn't that quit leaching at some point? Why does nobody talk about the life cycle cost? If horizontal iron needs to be replaced in 30 years and PVC lasts for 60, doesn't the energy to replace it matter? How about the energy needed to service that CI pipe as it repeatedly clogs? How much bigger is the "carbon footprint" if one material requires more service over its life?

Ultimately, the things that last the longest, perform the best and are the most cost effective over time probably consume the least total energy. When thinking of PVC vs cast iron drain line, I can't help but think of PEX vs steel water line. I'm not about to go back to steel ;~)

Yours, Larry
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Comments

  • singh
    singh Member Posts: 866
    Just had a meeting

    with homeowners. Apparently , I was not supposed to use PVC pipe for the DWV plumbing !
    GC never said anything, and it's not spec'd out on the drawings.
    I actually learned alot about PVC which I did not know before today. PVC has the worst impact on the environment ( that's what I was told, just in case anyone from the PVC industry is reading this, I'm not knocking any product ) there's supposedly a lot of out gassing, which is not green for those trying to have green home , manufacturing process is bad, etc.
    I asked about cast iron, bad, but not as bad as PVC, ABS, just as bad, Copper DWV , mining process bad, plus expensive . I was told a HDPE pipe product like Fusiotherm is ok. But my thinking, since this stuff comes from Europe, tranporting it not green either, plus can my supplier get it, and do they carry all drainage fittings a plumber is used to.

    I did ok with the pex for water and radiant . They thought it was going to be copper, but I had that spec changed. I explained the PEX process, and the manifold system, less wait for hot water, less water waste , etc.. = greener, still petroleum based though : (

    The house does have recycled blue jeans for insulation, R- value is the same as fiberglass, but more $$. It will have solar pv, no solar thermal , just a weekend home, so no one there most of the time.

    Do you think they'll notice if I use 14 pumps for zoning : )

    I did some online reading , here's more info :
    http://www.healthybuilding.net/pvc/pipes_report.html

    This green thang is becoming really interesting.



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  • lchmb
    lchmb Member Posts: 2,997
    not being smart but

    If they are so concerned about being green maybe they should stick with ONE house instead of two??
  • singh
    singh Member Posts: 866
    Only One

    They just have one house. They live in an apartment in the city . And they don't own a car, they ZipCar (share, but not the same as renting a car).

    I should mention, they're letting the PVC slide. Whew.
    Now should I tell them that their mod/con is vented with PVC.

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  • kevin coppinger_4
    kevin coppinger_4 Member Posts: 2,124
    after reading that ...

    outhouses will make a comeback. I am not a huge fan of PVC but it has no real competitor...I now only use Gorrilla glue to reduce the VOC's. Someone needs to invent a new product! kpc

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  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,230
    hard to believe

    It's difficult to believe that cast iron is "greener" than PVC. Imagine the energy needed to fabricate cast iron pipe. PVC is extrudable at far less than white hot temps.

    PVC is smoother on the inside(and stays that way)so blockages will be less of a concern. That's less future gasoline spent by the future plumber! Very Green ;~)

    Yours, Larry
  • jalcoplumb_7
    jalcoplumb_7 Member Posts: 62
    Outhouse not green!!

    The out house is not green either. The human waste will off gas. Have they looked into a better diet to provide less off gassing? I hope that they buy a green toilet paper. The bleaching process for the paper pulp is pretty bad I am told. Trees might be killed in the construction. The hot dipping process for the galvanized nails can't be good either.

    Run away!!!!
  • Wayco Wayne_2
    Wayco Wayne_2 Member Posts: 2,479
    Run away indeed.

    This morning in the Washington Post there was an article on "building green." and it listed PVC as a no no. However it did not mention what should be used instead. I've seen the denim insulation used before on a job last year. It worked fine, but my drill got caught in the fibers when I tried to run my tstat wire. WW

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  • Rich Kontny_4
    Rich Kontny_4 Member Posts: 73
    What Size?

    What is the square footage of this (unit) or units? While building green is admirable the size will determine impact also!

    Building green should not be a trade off for building bigger.Size/occupants should be factored in as much as materials and their impact.

    Green advocates who want to build huge homes are not seeing the forest because of the trees.

    Rich
  • where does the....

    Where does the poop poops go after leaving the "green" pipe? Sewer? That's not so green with all the out gassing and additives into it. Septic? Putting back into earth ... There's NOTHING 100 percent green. Some just more than other.. I take pvc for dwv over cast iron any day.
  • tim smith
    tim smith Member Posts: 2,738
    Regarding pvc etc

    I just went through this with a client, delivered a portable a/c unit but found out a week or so later that they could not have something with pvc in it in their house as they really feel it's unhealthy. In final outcome I found out it is made of ABS. Just fyi, ABS does not have nearly the off gassing issue as PVC. No major problems with this product.
  • singh
    singh Member Posts: 866
    Rich

    I agree about the big homes, but this is small home , about 2000 sq. ft , and it's not new, but was completly gutted, only structural post and beams left, then walls, roof built SIP panels added. I actually watch the carpenters reuse the old 2x's
    I think they are trying to be green and yet be reasonable, it just such a new field for so many, forgot to tell me I could not use PVC.
    I'm just happy I don't have to rip it out.
    I thought about this over the weekend, I think if I am ever confronted with this again, I'll use no-hub , cast iron is the greenest. It's a recycled product, last long time.

    Not unless someone comes up with recycled cardboard pipe. Like the tubes that are left when the Brawny paper towel ends :)

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  • Tony_23
    Tony_23 Member Posts: 1,033
    Orangeburg : )

    My thought, exactly.

    What some people do to feel good about themselves simply amazes me sometimes.

    Dig a hole with a pick and shovel and a wheelbarrow, light and heat it with a real beeswax candle with a cotton wick. Probably can't have a composter because it is made of PVC.

    It tires me...
  • Glenn Sossin_2
    Glenn Sossin_2 Member Posts: 592
    Unneccessary

    It's BS like this that puts a home out of the reach of most americans today. How about the pollution that a cast iron foundry puts out? Did they think about that? They should designate a green island somewhere iff the cost of Florida and send all these fanatics to it. .... no boat service.
  • Glen......

    What?! No boat service? You won't give them the recycled papermaches with water based glue boats, of course, the oars would be recycled cardboard.....
  • Glen......

    What?! No boat service? You won't give them the recycled papermaches with water based glue boats, of course, the oars would be recycled cardboard.....
  • ScottMP
    ScottMP Member Posts: 5,884
    So will

    ABS make a comeback ?? IT lost out here just like Beta Tape machines.

    Scott

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  • Doesn't...

    the outgassing diminish over time anyways? First I've heard of PVC and it's seeming lack of greeness. Sigh...

    I'd say, "OK, what material would you prefer I use?" Maybe work up a chart showing each of the various available materials explaining their manufacturing/delivery processes and let them assess the relative greeness of each product. Just make sure when they pick the exotic stuff you price accordingly. ;)


  • oops...
  • singh
    singh Member Posts: 866
    Glenn

    The C.I. pipe as a substitute was my suggestion. I know I can get the pipe and fittings. I thought it the lesser of two evils. They wanted HDPE. BTW, If you go to Charlotte Pipe website, the cast iron pipe can earn you LEED credits.
    They are not fanatics, actually very intelligent, and the PVC is staying, if they were fanatics ,I'd be ripping it out. and every homeowner should be concerned about the indoor air quality in the home, is'nt that what some of us try to promote here. Every american citizens should be concerned with the manufacturing process and waste of ALL products.

    What puts a home out of reach of most Americans today is greed , IMO.

    Why do these threads always go negative. I only posted it so we all can learn something , maybe collectively have some positive ideas and solutions in case any one of us should ever come across this on the job.

    That island for fanatics alreadys exists, it's call Long Island.... I kid you , lightnen up : )

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  • baby steps

    People are going to go green a little at a time. We have to learn to crawl before we can walk. It's like solar space heating, just because we can't get all our heat from solar yet, it doesn't mean we shouldn't try to get a part of our heating from the sun. It's better to build a big house that's green, than a big house that isn't green. Every little bit helps, even if everyone just recycled their trash it would make a difference. Thanks, Bob Gagnon

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  • Andrew Hagen_2
    Andrew Hagen_2 Member Posts: 236
    PVC

    They do realize that after the wastewater leaves their home it very likely travels through miles of underground PVC pipe before it gets to the treatment plant?

    I wonder if they also realize that their water supply also travels through miles of PVC before reaching their home?
  • Rich Kontny_4
    Rich Kontny_4 Member Posts: 73
    Green Movement

    Singh,

    I applaud you for bringing this to our attention. I was not being negative (I just feel size does matter.no pun intended)

    We all resist change yet we almost always benefit if we are on top of these changes.The green movement is here to stay and just starting to catch hold. If anything your customer should be praised for taking steps voluntarily.
    I have always enjoyed these state of the art projects and customers who are willing to take time to become part of the solution and instaed of part of the problem.

    The negative responses will only build resolve if the green concept is viable.I believe it is viable and all parties involved will change to meet the criteria.

    The green movement is changing many things such as household products,building products etc.

    This is not a bad thing!


    Thanks Singh for sharing

    Rich K.
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,230
    off-gassing

    A question. Off-gassing seems to be the reason your clients didn't want PVC. Plasticisers (sp?) are the chemicals put into plastic to make it flexible and they are what off-gas. PVE pipe is essentially rigid. Do we know for a fact that plasticisers are used in PVC pipe? If so, do we know how much compared to other plastics? It may be a non-issue.

    Yours, Larry
  • singh
    singh Member Posts: 866


    We have septics and wells up here.

    When I did city work, they have clay, CI, or brick sewers.
    Water services are K copper or brass, and ductile iron mains.

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  • Cradle to grave...

    and everywhere in between.

    Think globally, act locally.

    We are ALL going to have to rethink the way we do a LOT of things in the future.

    Things that never crossed our minds will leave an indellible mark on them (our brains)...


    ME
  • SVDW
    SVDW Member Posts: 80


    I spoke with a product engineer for a major PVC manufacturer & it was interesting. He said they are not allowed to use recycled material from off-site since some of their product carries potable water. He also said PVC pipe does not off-gas after manufacture which is what I've been told in the past. There is low-voc glue & primer available from many manufacturers for green compliance, IPS being one of them. I will say it seems like the marketplace is way out ahead of most manufacturers on these products. I see more & more builders & DIY shows pushing these products & practices so it's not going away. I also have seen LEED being pushed as a way to aid development while not exceeding capacity of local utilities. That saves us all $ so I'm going to stay positive & embrace it as long as it works. Everybody hated the 1.6 GPF toilet but I rarely hear anything about that anymore. I used an old 6 GPF closet at a friends house the other day & I thought it was broken because it just ran & ran. Now the manuf. are going to dual flush, 1.25 GPF, waterless urinals, on & on. LEED's not going away so we might as well educate ourselves on it & learn to sell it better than the other guys.
  • singh
    singh Member Posts: 866
    Larry

    I think they are more concerned with the Chlorine part of the PVC,and it's off gassing.
    Vinyl products is the largest user of chlorine gas.
    So when you see those long freight trains running through town, with chlorine tanks in tow, chances are its being used to make some type of PVC product.

    And if one of those tanks go, or train derails, in a town near you ............

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  • scott markle_2
    scott markle_2 Member Posts: 611
    cast iron

    > I think they are more concerned with the Chlorine

    > part of the PVC,and it's off gassing. Vinyl

    > products is the largest user of chlorine gas.

    > So when you see those long freight trains running

    > through town, with chlorine tanks in tow, chances

    > are its being used to make some type of PVC

    > product.

    >

    > And if one of those tanks go, or

    > train derails, in a town near you

    > ............

    >

    > _A

    > HREF="http://www.heatinghelp.com/getListed.cfm?id=

    > 377&Step=30"_To Learn More About This

    > Professional, Click Here to Visit Their Ad in

    > "Find A Professional"_/A_



  • scott markle_2
    scott markle_2 Member Posts: 611
    cast iron etc.

    Remember the condensate neutralizer if you plan to use CI pipe with a mod con. Leed does their homework but I'm surprised that ci is much better than pvc

    It's nice to feel good about what your doing and know that your work may be having a positive impact on our environment. But the green movement is in my opinion often an upper class reaction to underling guilt. This guilt is justified, we are in the process of irrevocably altering the biological diversity and ecological health of the planet.

    Unfortunately few in our political leadership community are asking the hard questions. The American dream is an ecological nightmare, We "need" too much. I heard recently that china had exceeded the united states in carbon emissions, Interesting because in reality much of these emissions really come back to us and our insatiable appetite for all of the cheap consumer goods we import. Yes it's nice to have a client that is willing to spend more for a efficient boiler and low temperature distribution, maybe even solar DHW and it's also nice that comfort is not the only important factor in that decision. But lets be real,this society needs to change in ways we are not even beginning to publicly talk about

    With all respect to your clients and the movement at large, some of these choices are more "feel good" than world changing. Worse yet is the use of green ideology to obfuscate selfish even destructive behavior ie. The luxury gated green community. For these types concerns about off-gassing and air quality don't really go beyond the carefully constructed green cocoons that protect their privileged occupants from the reality of a world being trashed by greed.

    Some have suggested that president Carter lost the election because of his plea to the american people to conserve and sacrifice in response to the oil embargo.Here we are 27 years later (at war) facing the same issues.

  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,230
    chlorine factoids

    Hello: Let it be known that I'm not out to defend chlorine (or dioxin), but here's some chlorine info. Roughly twelve million tons are made of the stuff in the US every year. Of that about 35% is used in making legal drugs ;~) About 25% goes to make PVC. I didn't find a figure on how much goes to disinfecting things like water, but suspect it's a big percentage. Chlorine is not, by the way, man made. It is on the atomic chart, #17, Cl.

    If there are ways to minimize its use in plumbing by replacement or reformulating the plastics, good. Simply abandoning its use would certainly cause more harm than good.

    For the clients in this case, I'd look at life-cycle energy usage and let that be my guide to what is the best way to go.

    Yours, Larry
  • singh
    singh Member Posts: 866
    Thanks for the factoids.

    I'll keep them for in my head for the next one.

    BTW - yes, chlorine is on in the peridodic table, But chlorine in it's natural state is usually found combined with another element, like salt NaCl.
    To remove , requires some sort of electroylisis process. (I'm no chemistry professor)

    Almost like saying , Plutonium is found on the chart, does that mean nukes o.k?

    More PVC info:

    http://www.buildinggreen.com/auth/article.cfm?fileName=030101b.xml

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  • Rich Kontny_4
    Rich Kontny_4 Member Posts: 73
    Green

    I just noticed that Dan has a very extensive "Green Section" go to the end of his tool bar and look for "Green"
  • hr
    hr Member Posts: 6,106
    The DWV pipe I saw in Italy

    at the wholesaler I visited, was all slip fit gasketed stuff.

    Fairly thin walled and soft, I believe it was a PP polypropylene material. No glue required.

    Very few copper sweat fittings on the shelves, all press-fit coipper fittings.

    hot rod

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  • The Wire Nut
    The Wire Nut Member Posts: 417
    Hmm

    Cast Iron and any other metal certainly consumes a lot of energy when its being made. That said, I believe the issue that environmentalists have with PVC in general is how unhappy a lot of the components in it are for the environment... leaching into drinking water after installation, and all that.

    I agree that PVC is the best material for horizontal drains, though I prefer cast iron for verticals. The cast iron pipe is a lot quieter, even in insulated walls. In my mind, that gives you the best of both worlds, i.e. no stick in the areas that are likely to become sticky and quiet in the areas that are apt to be noisy. Fernco, et. al. are your friends...
    "Let me control you"

    Lost in SOHO NYC and Balmy Whites Valley PA
  • The Wire Nut
    The Wire Nut Member Posts: 417
    LEED, et. al.

    I have come across a number of LEED certified buildings that have left me shaking my head. Getting credit for using beeswax on banisters inside is nice, but the focus always seems to be to achieve whatever LEED status is desired through the lowest cost means.

    Thus, things that have a real impact on the environment via heat gain and loss, like proper insulation details, shading, window placement, building orientation, etc. get little to no attention. After all, we do not want to interfere with the architects vision for the building, do we? The occupants, operational costs, etc. thus kow-tow to the ego of architects and those that enable them.

    For example, that latest hunk of LEGO blocks posing as a dormitory at HBS is LEED certified and that building makes a joke of LEED, IMO. A new dormitory at Tufts is touted as using 30% less energy per square foot than traditional dormitories... which is not saying much. Reduce power, heat, etc. by 75%, and then I'll get interested.
    "Let me control you"

    Lost in SOHO NYC and Balmy Whites Valley PA
  • singh
    singh Member Posts: 866
    Cast Iron

    > That is exactly what I did building my place.

    > There does seem to be a lot of iffy "science"

    > around what PVC does and doesn't do. Does it

    > really leach into water? How much? What about

    > the cement used? Doesn't that quit leaching at

    > some point? Why does nobody talk about the life

    > cycle cost? If horizontal iron needs to be

    > replaced in 30 years and PVC lasts for 60,

    > doesn't the energy to replace it matter? How

    > about the energy needed to service that CI pipe

    > as it repeatedly clogs? How much bigger is the

    > "carbon footprint" if one material requires more

    > service over its life?

    >

    > Ultimately, the things

    > that last the longest, perform the best and are

    > the most cost effective over time probably

    > consume the least total energy. When thinking of

    > PVC vs cast iron drain line, I can't help but

    > think of PEX vs steel water line. I'm not about

    > to go back to steel ;~)

    >

    > Yours, Larry



    I've installed more c.i pipe then pvc.
    I also "serviced" c.i pipe. Non issue. I know the life cycle is longer than 30 years.
    And even so, at the end of it's life span, it can be recycled. What does that do to the "carbon footprint" of pipe materials.
    No doubt PVC is here to stay, cast iron is not going down easy.
    I just thought of a composite product, best of both worlds, maybe "greener" something like the Americast tubs.

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  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,230
    recycle-ability

    Hello: Perhaps it's because I've mostly done service work, but horizontal CI pipe gets grooved along the bottom of the pipe and leaks. Or, it gets blooms of rust anywhere around its circumference. Acidic waste eats it right up. Thirty years has been on the short end of my experience (with normal drain water), forty to fifty are more typical life for CI. PVC really remains an unknown for lifetime as there is so little experience with it failing. Note that PVC is recycled by some even as we type. So, carbon footprint is a difficult to arrive at measure.

    Composite is an interesting idea... CI shell with a plastic liner?

    Yours, Larry
  • how would we recycle PVC?

    I hate throwing it away, who would take it? Bob Gagnon

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  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,230
    recyclers

    Hello: In the Thomas Register, look under "recycling services" or "plastics, recycled" to learn their suppliers. I've found commercial operations are not particularly user friendly. If you're not near their location, which is usually a large population center, you're supposed to deliver to them, which may make no sense. Still, can't hurt to find out.

    Yours, Larry
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