The world’s first LEED for Homes™ Platinum Certification for a home remodel – a 1948 rambler – is also home to an innovative water management system from Culligan. Platinum is the highest level of certification awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) for residential Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). The home (based in Minnetonka, Minnesota) is a product of the environmental organization, Live Green, Live Smart green housing project, with virtually every square foot devoted to energy efficiency, water conservation and healthy occupancy. Culligan’s water softener and drinking water systems were instrumental in converting the water management processes of the aging abode to a global role model for contemporary sustainable living.
Culligan Water Conditioning – the Minnetonka-based flagship dealer of the largest independent Culligan franchise with 20 locations throughout Arizona, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania and Missouri – donated the solutions necessary to upgrade the home’s existing water treatment systems to meet LEED standards. The equipment donation involved a Culligan Smart-Sensor™ water softener and The Culligan Good Water Machine® reverse osmosis (RO) filtration unit for drinking water.
News Image "Culligan Water Conditioning of Minnetonka wanted to support the Green Movement and participate in this project because we believe in the environmental direction that the home is trying to promote, and we know that our products support this type of initiative. It is the wave of the future. Culligan has some of the most environmentally friendly water conditioners and filters available on the market today, and our involvement was a testament to the quality and capabilities of our products,” said John Packard, president.
Culligan’s water softener technology was, in fact, not a “new” resident of the rambler. Prior to the home’s remodel, the previous owners had left a 15-year-old Culligan rental unit in the utility room. When the new owner – Live Green, Live Smart founder and CEO Peter Lytle – moved in, he discovered the softener and decided to give Culligan an opportunity to contribute to the Live Green, Live Smart project. Lytle met with Steve Lazarski, Culligan Territory Representative, and the two shared an instant passion for the potential of this environmentally redesigned home and how Culligan could play a role in water quality and conservation.
“Renovating an existing structure with ‘good bones’ is much greener than building new, and water is a critical resource in that effort. Every drop matters – both inside and outside the home – and we looked to Culligan to advise us on solutions that would best meet the stringent water management guidelines of LEED certification,” Lytle recalled.
The area in Minnetonka where the house is built is known for very hard water (up to 20 grains per gallon). This is problematic because hard water can produce scale build-up on pipes and plumbing fixtures, which causes them to erode. Hard water also leaves laundry stiff and gray, creates spots and stains on dishes and appliances, and requires more soap for cleansing and bathing to create a decent lather. Traditional water softeners tackle these problems by “cycling” and then releasing salt into the water source, often more than is required – which causes excess waste to the environment and unnecessary consumption of electricity to power the less efficient softening units.
Culligan’s Smart-Sensor water softener is different. It offers true environmental benefits to homeowners by using a unique digital probe called Aqua Sensor®, which sits inside the Smart-Sensor™ unit. The Aqua-Sensor continuously monitors water use, salt use and changing water hardness and automatically activates regeneration only when needed to ensure optimal water and salt consumption. Just $3 a year in electricity powers Culligan’s Smart-Sensor technology, saving residents up to 20,000 gallons of water and two tons of salt in 10 years – up to a 70 percent savings over a standard water metered softener. Using less soap, detergent and harsh chemical cleansers to remove residue caused by water hardness is another benefit of soft water to the environment.
Not only did Lytle replace the home’s 15-year-old rental unit with Culligan’s more advanced Smart-Sensor water softener, he consulted Culligan for a drinking water filtration solution. Lazarski recommended the Culligan Good Water Machine®. The appliance’s RO filtration method improves the taste and odor of drinking water and reduces microscopic impurities. With RO, water passes through an ultra-thin, semi-permeable membrane, which filters unwanted particles such as sodium and lead. The appliance is easily installed, and the faucet mounts to the kitchen sink and comes with integral lights that indicate water quality. In the Live Green, Live Smart home, the water that is rejected by the RO system and shower is then re-used in the toilets as gray water.
As the project progressed, Kyle LeMay, Culligan of Minnetonka Sales Manager, also became involved. He and Lazarski continued to work closely with Lytle, who has been living with his wife in the sustainable house since it was completed in late fall 2007. “The water management system virtually takes care of itself. We’re able to enjoy clear, soft water using an approach that is energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Culligan was key to helping us obtain LEED Platinum certification with their green solutions, reliable maintenance and consistent service every step of the way,” Lytle added.