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July 29, 2021

Gary Klein: The Highlights

Gary Klein: The Highlights

We’ll be posting video of Gary Klein’s second appearance on Construction Tech next week. In the meantime, you can both revisit his first appearance on Construction Tech from earlier this year and read on to absorb some of the more memorable Garyisms from Tuesday.

For those who are unfamiliar with Gary’s work, one of his goals in life is to get architects to design with hot water systems in mind, especially with respect to energy and water waste. Very simply put, if you plan to install a water heater in one corner of a house and a shower as far as away from it as the floor plan allows, then you have necessarily added costs to the project due to extra labor and materials. Additionally, it creates structural inefficiencies because the water now must travel from the heater to the shower. As Gary put it:

“If you have a distributed set of wet rooms, and you make it a compact [or clustered] set of wet rooms, you save $1,000 to $2,000. But if you don’t, you have to add the cost of a pump, and that installed is another $1,000 to $2,000,” Gary said. “So you’re in it for plus or minus—let’s call it $1,500 one way and $1,500 the other. It’s a difference of $3,000. So, by virtue of design we end up with differences in cost that are really not considered very often. In fact, I was on a call earlier today where I was chatting about this, and I wanted to make a point that the architectural designs of a building are responsible for the distance between the water heater and the wet rooms, and the wet rooms and each other. But he made the point that not only is it distance, it’s also time. And so those distances are physical in terms of material and in terms of volume of water and in terms of waste…all the structural wastes. But they’re also related to directly to us in terms of time to tap. They’re very much related. And so I think that this, again, is a another good reason for putting things closer together.”

“On the other hand, If you have a big dwelling and you’ve got a cluster of bedroom and a cluster of public rooms, having two water heaters makes a lot of sense.”

On distribution systems: “I like to see trunks and twigs and keep the trunk close to the fixture so that the twig is small in volume. That’s the basic strategy of high levels of service and least energy to do that.”

Finally, for individuals in homes that are built to the Passive House standard, waste heat from water heaters may be something to consider. “Our water heaters work less than two hours a day—probably less than an hour a day actually heating the water that’s consumed. Storage tank or tankless doesn’t really make any difference. About the same numbers. 30 minutes, an hour…let’s call it an hour. So, 23 out of 24 hours it’s just sitting there dumping heat at some rate.”

After some back and forth with Michael from Bethlehem about the exact rate, he concluded: “It’s basically adding another person 24/7.”

That may not sound like a lot, but it may be significant enough to impact occupant comfort in a smaller Passive House.

Jay Fox

Jay Fox

Jay Fox is a writer and musician based in Asheville, NC. His work has appeared in Crain’s New York, Salon, Stay Thirsty Magazine, Aethlon, a...

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