Cracking the stereotype: green plumbing

The modern plumber has evolved into an eco-conscious, techno-savvy professional.

Green plumber

Credit: iStockphoto

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Think 'plumber' and most of us picture the ubiquitous plumbers' crack. But with the advent of sustainability and an increased emphasis on water conservation, plumbers have evolved beyond traditional understandings of their trade into water-savvy professionals.

Add to this the introduction of an array of new water-saving technologies - waterless urinals, solar hot water heaters and greywater treatment systems just to name a few - and the local plumber is certainly a valuable bridge on the road to sustainability.

Image makeover

Brent Papadopolous runs Melbourne-based Sustainable Plumbing Solutions. He says the company prides itself on its professional image and is attempting to dispel popular plumbing stereotypes.

"We've very up to date with modern technology and presentation. Our staff is always clean, neat, well mannered and punctual. Just because we're a plumbing company doesn't mean we can afford to be sloppy," he says.

"The modern plumber has evolved because of sustainability. Water and energy are such precious resources now and plumbers are on the front line when it comes to educating consumers.

"We've had to re-train, re-think and re-educate ourselves and everyone around us to provide the eco-plumbing services that are required. Nowadays we are required to perform different types of work - it's not the old fashioned unblocking toilets and working with sewer pipes, it's a different form of trade work altogether."

The burgeoning sustainable plumbing industry consists of companies whose entire business is devoted to green plumbing work. Many of these green plumbers are passionate about saving water and keen to act as pioneers of new technologies that are continually appearing on the market. They are installing blackwater treatment systems, connecting entire homes to rainwater and even greening the operation of their businesses by recycling, using renewable energy and harvesting rainwater.

Educating the masses

So how does a blue-collar worker become green? Training is the obvious answer, and nowadays everyone from an apprentice plumber fresh out of school to the old bloke with 30 years experience on the tools has access to a sustainable education.

Green Plumbers is a well-known trade initiative that runs free, nationally-recognised training courses for registered plumbers seeking to hone their environmental skill set. There are upwards of 6,000 accredited Green Plumbers in Australia today.

They are trained in home heating and cooling appliances, hot water heating, solar hot water, water conservation and sustainability, water recycling including rain water tanks, greywater and septic tanks.

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