May, 2008
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

World’s First LEED Platinum-Certified Remodeled Home has “Green” Water Treatment Systems


Live Green, Live Smart™ Sustainable House Boasts Eco-Friendly Softening and Filtration Technology that Saves Salt, Soap, Water, Electricity – and the Environment

One of the world’s greenest homes was featured in the April 2008 ASHI Reporter. Situated in Minnetonka, Minnesota, the home is a product of the environmental organization Live Green, Live Smart™ green housing project, and is the world’s first LEED for Homes™ Platinum Certification for a home remodel. 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).

With virtually every square foot of the 1948 rambler devoted to energy efficiency, water conservation and healthy occupancy, the 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.
A Culligan Smart-Sensor™ water softener and The Culligan Good Water Machine® reverse osmosis (RO) filtration unit for drinking water were donated by the local Culligan franchise.

Smart home, Smart-Sensor

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 project.

The area in Minnetonka where the house is based is known for very hard water (up to 20 grains per gallon). This is problematic because hard water can produce scale buildup on PVC pipes and plumbing fixtures, which causes them to erode and release dioxins into the water source. 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 constantly running softening units.

Up to 70 percent salt and water savings

Culligan’s Smart-Sensor™ water softener offers environmental benefits to homeowners by using a unique digital probe called Aqua Sensor®, which sits inside the Smart-Sensor™ unit. The sensor continuously monitors water use, salt use and changing water hardness. It automatically activates regeneration only when needed to ensure optimal water and salt consumption. Just $3 a year in electricity powers the unit, saving residents 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 to the environment.

Great-tasting water also goes “gray”

Not only did Lytle replace the home’s 15-year-old rental unit with the Smart-Sensor™ water softener, he consulted Culligan for a drinking water filtration solution. The Culligan Good Water Machine® uses a RO filtration method designed to improve the taste and odor of drinking water and reduce microscopic impurities. Water passes through an ultra-thin, semi-permeable membrane, which filters unwanted particles such as sodium and lead. Integral lights indicate water quality. In the Live Green, Live Smart™ home, water rejected by the RO system and the shower is re-used in the toilets as gray water.

According to 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 is a founding member of the Water Quality Association and contributing donor to the Water Quality Research Foundation, the research arm of the water quality improvement industry. For more information, about the systems used in the sustainable house, visit or call 1-800-CULLIGAN.

Live Green, Live Smart™
For more information and the construction diary on the Live Green, Live Smart™ Sustainable House, visit: or contact: or by phone at: 651.253.6825.

*Savings are calculated using a metered water softener over 10 years, under varying conditions, as a comparison.