Water Efficiency and the professional plumbing sector (aka ‘Green Plumbers’)

Professional plumbers play an essential role in the implementation of water efficiency. If North America is to achieve high water efficiency standards and more ambitious plumbing codes, plumbers will need to be actively included in the water efficiency discussion. Repositioning the industry will required a cultural shift because the plumbing community has been mostly ignored in discussions of the larger environmental agenda and priorities. This repositioning will require substantial rethinking and retraining. New knowledge will need to be transmitted about emerging water efficient technologies, public policies and practices, as well as the rationale for use in residential and Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional (ICI) sectors.

The GreenPlumbers Program (GPP) initiated this knowledge transfer process. Originating in Australia and expanded to the United States, the GPP is a national training and accreditation program for professional plumbers. Their focus has been on upgrading skills and awareness of water efficiency, conservation, and the professional plumbers’ roles in the contemporary environmental context. In this paper we report on the efficacy of the GPP’s curriculum and the process of transferring explicit water efficiency knowledge. Semi-structured interviews and a survey were used to gather the data. We considered how the program participants incorporated the GPP curriculum into their ‘day-to-day’ practices and operations post-certification. We also investigated participants’ motivating factors and cross-referenced these findings to their overall assessment of the program. Recommendations focus on how the GPP can best influence and contribute to a more comprehensive water efficiency agenda.

More Info: “Elton, K. and S.E. Wolfe (2011). “Water Efficiency and the Professional Plumbing Sector: How capacity and capability influence knowledge acquisition and innovation.” Water Resources Management. 26(2): 595-608. DOI: 10.1007/s11269-011-9934-7”