‘Who’s Leading the Green Movement?’ Guest Blog with Matt Voorhees

Individual homeowners are going green in record numbers, but they are not the ones who will be the leaders in the green movement because they are going green slowly. As much as they might want for circumstances to be otherwise, most are not in a position to run out and buy, for instance, a high efficiency clothes washer when the old one is still running just fine. It’s a big expense, and while they will ultimately recoup all of the money from the savings on their water bill, the immediate savings does not justify the price of such a big-ticket item.

And even if they do go for the high efficiency washer, how likely are they to be able to replace all the other items that are wasting energy in their homes during the same time period?

Multi-housing owners and developers, on the other hand, are in a perfect position to realize profits in energy bills very quickly, depending on how many units they are overseeing. In their wildest dreams, many of them may never have thought of themselves as being on the forefront of a movement that, in the beginning at least, was associated with a political ideology. But the opportunity has been handed to them, and many are taking the reins.

One company deserving of recognition for its green leadership is The K & D Group, one of Ohio’s largest privately owned real estate development firms. They own and manage over 13,000 residential units in several apartment communities in the northeast portion of the state. The K & D Group is just about done with a project they began some six months ago to retrofit toilets in 7,500 of their units, mostly in buildings that were 20 to 30 years old. These same units also got new showerheads and aerators on their faucets.

The reason I know so much about The K & D Group project is because the company I work for, Niagara Conservation, supplied the toilets, aerators and showerheads. But that is beside the point (though I would like to mention that our Flapperless toilet is perfect for such retrofits not only because it is water efficient and maintenance free, but also because the base and tank are large enough to cover the old toilet’s footprint).

The point here is that K & D has chosen to overlook the difficulties inherent in such a big project (not the least of which is that residents don’t especially like the interruption of having installers working in their bathrooms) and focus on the bigger picture—and that picture is green, in two senses of the word.
Each one-bathroom household will be saving 9,200 gallons of water per year because of the toilet retrofit alone. K & D expects to save $1.5 million in water costs.

These are amazing numbers to consider. Think about it: There are 100 million toilets in the U.S. that flush at 3.5 gallons or higher, and if just half of these older models were replaced with high-efficiency toilets, 600 billion gallons of water would be saved each year. Thanks to companies like The K & D Group, that kind of savings no longer seems unfathomable.

(Matt Voorhees is the Business Development Representative for Niagara Conservation www.niagaraconservation.com and www.itseasybeinggreen.com)