One of the frustrating things as a green contractor in New York and Brooklyn is that a lot of the building code isn’t smart. We aren’t allowed to use PEX tubing for household water. Running direct half inch pex lines to each faucet is a really smart thing to do. This is called home run piping.

If the tube goes directly to the faucet through the shortest route then there is less area and distance for the water to go. Thus the hot water comes quicker and less water is wasted waiting for it. And once the water is turned off there is less hot water sitting in the pipe being wasted to the wall.

Running copper pipe directly to each faucet is not so smart because it is very expensive. But it is smarter than the conventional way of having a thick riser pipe with offshoots since the thick pipe wastes even more water.

But we aren’t even allowed to do home run piping with copper. Most Brooklyn brownstones are three to four stories high and the risers have to be one inch copper tubes with half inch coming off. This is a huge waste of water since you have to wait a long time for the hot water to fill up that massive one inch pipe if you live on a top floor. The wasted water and heat is colossal. There is absolutely no reason to have a one inch pipe.

Their claim is to keep pressure high, but if you are running a small pipe to only one sink via a home run method then the pressure will never be drained by two people turning sinks on at the same time anyway.

My other plumbing peeve with the Brooklyn DOB is gray water. Apparently you can get a waiver if you want to use gray water recovery. But I am still looking for this person in the DOB. So far it is a pain in the butt to do something that should be easy.

And again, if I do find the person to sign off on it, THE RISER FROM THE GRAY WATER TANK TO THE TOILETS HAS TO BE ONE INCH BY CODE. Again, their reason is to keep the pressure high. Pressure for a toilet bowl?!?! So for the Brooklyn Green Show House I’m running a one inch copper tube up four floors to feed a f*%ing toilet. That is just complete stupidity. It is a waste of copper, water and heat. It is embarrassing to have it in a green show house. Yet if I don’t the house won’t pass inspection.

The other option is to do things by code and after inspection change it back to a more intelligent and ecological setup. I have no problem breaking the law for moral and societal reasons. There was a time when the law had separate bathrooms for whites and blacks. Laws are not always correct.

And if this was my personal house then I would break the laws in the interest of intelligence and ecology. But as a green show house I want to show the public what can be done within the confines of current codes. And besides, the piping method will be all over the press so it wouldn’t be very intelligent anyway. Thus I’m putting the one inch pipe in and using it as an example of the DOB backwardness. Hopefully that will help change policy.