Understanding the Environmental Benefits of Structured Plumbing®

With kitchens and baths such critical selling points, having the best hot water distribution system in place gives an edge over the wider market and is good for the environment, too
By Larry K. Acker

From among many vital energy conservation strategies, structured plumbing improves water and energy efficiency, as well as overall sustainability, by better controlling how the distribution of hot water directly impacts energy use, water consumption, and waste.

To start with the basics, hot water distribution is the means of moving hot water from the point at which it is heated, to the desired fixture (whether it be a faucet, shower, or any other location where the hot water is needed). Hot water distribution design impacts three major resources in addition to air quality: water, energy, and electricity and air pollution.

When it comes to how hot water is created, there have traditionally been limited options. You had one of three things: a water heater tank, a tankless water heater, or a boiler. All the while, energy is continuously consumed to heat the water for distribution. Poor hot water distribution design generally involves a longer wait for hot water, which then consumes more water and energy, not to mention the inconvenience.

Advanced Conservation Technology, Inc. (also known as, ACT, Inc. D’MAND Kontrols® Systems) manufactures Hot Water Recirculation Systems that deliver hot water on demand, reduce water waste, and conserve energy. ACT, Inc.’s D’MAND Kontrols® recirculating hot water pumps send cold water in the plumbing back to the water heater, via the cold water, or dedicated return line, while simultaneously bringing hot water to all fixtures in the line, in a matter of seconds. Unlike other hot water recirculation pumps, the D’MAND KONTROLS® Systems do not allow hot water into the cold water line, and deliver hot water to the furthest fixtures on user demand, rather than relying on a timer activated system.

There is an annual cost of water waste associated with waiting for hot water, added to additional costs of electricity required to keep a pump running to recirculate hot water if a recirculation pump is in your system.

The potential savings of water in a single-family home by using D’MAND KONTROLS® Pumping Systems is estimated to be $200 million per year in California, or $2 billion per year in the U.S.!

Looking to educate the industry, ACT, Inc. (with the help of Ron Blank Associates) has developed a one-hour, online, free course through a Green CE Continuing Education Program, a registered contributor to the American Institute of Architects Continuing Education System. The course is designed for Architects, Engineers, Contractors, Builders, LEED Professionals and anyone seeking an education on the design of the most sustainable hot water distribution controls and plumbing systems.

Verifiable facts covered and explored in-depth throughout the program explain why structured plumbing is the most efficient hot water distribution system. Facts like: hot water has 20 times the embedded energy as cold water and the average homeowner wastes between seven and 10 gallons per person waiting for hot water (that is between 7,000 and 10,000 gallons wasted per year). But maybe most importantly is the knowledge that heating less than 10 gallons of water is equal to one kilowatt-hour of energy. Why is that so significant? Well, one kilowatt-hour of energy emits 1.5 pounds of carbon dioxide, 5.8 grams of sulfur dioxide, and 2.5 grams of nitrogen oxide – greenhouse gases that none of us want to see produced any more than necessary.

Facts like these are used to define and explain Structured Plumbing® in domestic systems (existing and new homes) and its relation to  water and energy efficiency, to compare and contrast the different options for designing a hot water distribution system and the impact of such choices in residential, multi-family and commercial buildings, to list the water and energy efficiency benefits of ON-D’MAND Pump controls versus other distribution strategies, to explain residential and commercial/multi-family application of ON-D’MAND technology, and to discuss the water and energy savings generated by using an ON-D’MAND circulation pumping system.

The Green CE Course offers sustainability-conscious readers of all kinds a comprehensive solution that they can put into practice in an existing home or building, or new-construction projects. Those looking to receive the AIA LU/Health Safety & Welfare (HSW) CE Hour, 1 GBCI CE Hour for LEED Professionals, this class is for you.


Larry K. Acker is CEO of ACT, Inc. D’MAND Kontrols® Systems. Learn more at

www.gothotwater.com. Access the free course at www.greence.com/course/understanding-structured-plumbing-how-use-demand-control-systems asat.

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