uncovered copper water pipes dating to 4,000 to 3,000 BCE in an ancient palace in the Indus River Valley
of India. Copper pipes have appeared in cultures throughout the ancient
world, including Egypt, Greece, and Babylon under Hammurabi (known for
his famous "code" - an antecedent of modern statutory law).
Romans developed one of the most elaborate plumbing systems of the classical
world. Their system of aqueducts, underground sewers, public and private
baths, bronze and lead piping, and marble fixtures with gold and silver
filigree is the basis for most modern systems.
Roman developments in water infrastructure improved sanitary conditions
and enhanced agricultural output. However, between the Roman Empire and the 19th century most plumbing enhancements were of a trivial nature as Europeans
focused simply on expanding access to potable water and sanitary disposal
20th Century Improvements and Regulatory Practices
During the 20th century, many advances in personal and public water and sewage infrastructure
arose from private ingenuity and government regulations. With the
invention of water closets circa 1900-1932, home sewage removal reached unprecedented levels of sanitation.
The US Building Officials and Code Administrators, formed in 1915, introduced
regulations that sought to standardize plumbing on a national level. This
would allow public infrastructure to serve private homes at low cost.
Six years later, in 1921, the National Institute of Standards and Technology
was started by President Hoover in order to accomplish this goal.
A copper shortage in 1966 led to the invention of plastic piping, which
is more affordable and more environmentally friendly than lead and copper
piping. The Energy Efficiency Act of the 1980s, later amended with the
Energy Policy Act of 1992, was the first attempt to regulate water flow
rates in plumbing. This began a continuing trend of increased focus on
environmental stewardship and sustainability in the plumbing industry.
Green Plumbing: The 21st Century and Beyond
Historians and engineers are currently
researching the "green" plumbing technologies of ancient civilizations. Yet the modern plumbing industry
has built on the successes of the 20th century to ensure environmental and resource sustainability for future
The plumbing industry is dedicated to
addressing the global water shortage epidemic. Modern water and sewage infrastructure can be built more quickly and
with less environmental impact than ever before. This has the potential
to provide life sustaining sanitary plumbing to people who desperately need it.
Plumbing professionals are also recognizing their role in
protecting the environment. They are concerned with how to effectively and sustainably provide the
water needed by agriculture, the public and other industries.
The EPA's WaterSense project is one way in which public and private
industries are trying to address these concerns. They are also coming
together to develop and promote the use of
eco-friendly and energy-saving plumbing.
With all of the options available now and the alphabet soup of certifications,
many consumers are reluctant to pursue these options. Speak to a plumbing
professional who specializes in these plumbing fixtures to learn how you
can save money and protect the environment.