Hard Or Soft - Water!
One of the things I like most about teaching USGBC’s LEED-CI training workshops are the questions audience members ask. I especially like the ones I can’t answer that send me searching for explanations.
Here’s a good example. Why, someone in the hospitality field wondered, doesn’t LEED address the differences between soft and hard water use? Softened water lengthens our showers by a minute or two because it makes it harder to get the soap and shampoo out, or so it seems.
Actually, according to some internet sources the reverse is true. When minerals are removed from hard water, soap no long forms a scum on skin and the “slimy” feeling comes from, guess what - natural body oils. Soft water showers are the ones that get us truly clean. Others disagree, insisting that the sodium in softened water makes it more difficult to rinse soap off our skin.
Either way, the fact remains that many of us keep the soft water running longer trying to get “squeaky” clean, which defeats the purpose of using high-efficiency, water-saving shower heads.
Answers are complicated by other issues – really hard water shortens the life of plumbing fixtures while really soft water may not be safe to drink. Has the LEED Water TAG addressed this? We’d love to hear.
My workshop attendee confirmed one bit of good news – hotel chains are rethinking those water hog dual-head showers!