“In the 1930’s plumbers worked under the motto of protecting the nation’s health,” explains Megan Lehtonen, president of the GreenPlumbers . “GreenPlumbers’ goal is to equip today’s plumbers with the product knowledge and training to continue this mission by enabling their protection of our planet’s most valuable resource, water.”
According to the Water Footprint Network, water use has increased six-fold in the past century, more than twice the rate of the Earth’s population growth. The U.S. EPA calculates that the average American guzzles about 100 gallons of water daily. (Imagine the economic ramifications if water does become the “new oil” and is priced at $3 per gallon!) A United Nation’s study found that one flush of a toilet in the developed world uses as much water as the average person in the developing world allocates for an entire day’s cooking, washing, cleaning, and drinking. Evidence like this and the real world constraints on supply in locations from Atlanta, Georgia, to the central valley farms of California has moved water issues into the public policy spotlight.
With this growing public awareness on water issues, it is amazing that only 13 states require continuing education for plumbers. GreenPlumbers aims to fill this learning void. “Water is experiencing a technology revolution,” Lehtonen notes. “Many plumbers don’t think the new technologies work or that their customers want them. Our educational outreach confronts these misconceptions by providing them with knowledge on how water technologies are changing, increasing awareness that these technologies do work. And we provide real world case study examples on how these new water technologies are good for a plumber’s business, their customer’s pocketbooks and our environment.”
The GreenPlumbers real world, bottom line focus is helping plumbers learn how going green can grow clients. “The plumber/customer relationship has changed. Now the customer is often the expert. They research everything before they talk to a plumber,” Lehtonen observes. Her observations mirror my own experience tracking what I call the Awareness Customer, a customer segment with $10 trillion of annual buying power in the United States. Today’s Awareness Customer is actively engaged in a learning, then experimentation and finally procurement process which aligns his values with his pursuit of value.
“As a result of the customer’s growing education on water technology options we are seeing growing demand for accredited green plumbers,” Lehtonen adds. “Customers are looking for plumbers that can offer water audits and technology solutions that will produce savings. And right now in this depressed construction economy we are finding interest in our program from plumbers seeking ways to sell more.”
What GreenPlumbers offers to a plumber is participation in a new industry standard focused upon saving water and money. “Our program was developed by the Master Plumbers’ and Mechanical Services Association of Australia,” Lehtonen explains. “Australia is experiencing a significant drought that has sparked a tremendous amount of consumer focus upon using less water. Prompted by the government, the Master Plumbers’ and Mechanical Services Association of Australia developed a set of industry standards and best practices that equips plumbers with product knowledge and audit skills focused upon saving water. Since its implementation in 2001, the program has contributed to a 50% reduction in water usage across the country. This same level of savings could be achieved in the United States if we adopted the types of water audits and water technology standards used in Australia.”
Plumbers also receive business support to help attract customers. They are provided an association logo for use in their marketing, a code of ethics to establish their brand credibility and website support. But most importantly they are provided with ongoing training and information that provide a competitive advantage in attracting and winning customers. Local water agencies are beginning to see the marketing and water saving advantages of this program and have begun to sponsor green plumber training and certification programs. For example, Denver Water has partnered with GreenPlumbers and its local certified green plumbers to offer water customers a 50-point $500 water audit at a discounted price of $49 that is achieving 50% water savings for participating customers.
Nick Marine of Marietta, Georgia, was the first plumber licensed through the Green Plumber Association. Check out his YouTube Video to see an example of how one green plumber is implementing the latest technologies in water and renewable energy to help his customers save money and water and by doing so, growing his green revenues.
Bill Roth is the founder of Earth 2017 and author of The Secret Green Sauce.