Sure and simple ways to avoid water waste

Water meters

The costs of wasted water are easily overlooked. A single faucet that drips once per second will send over 2,000 gallons of water down the pipes within a year. The potential expense faced by office, commercial, and industrial facilities is significantly multiplied.

Fortunately, planning and awareness will shut off the dollar drain. Water waste can be avoided through conservation measures, signage, and maintenance.

CONSERVATION MEASURES

Every use of water inside and outside of a building can be wasteful or watchful. Conservation can be achieved through strategic choices in fixtures, use of reclaimed water where appropriate, water monitoring tools, and maintenance of a water-wise landscape.

Efficient use

Water-wise fixtures in restrooms and breakrooms will reduce waste. The Energy Policy Act (EPAct), passed by Congress in 1992, specifies maximum flow rates for the fixtures seen in homes as well as every office restroom and breakroom. The EPAct limits created a challenge for inventors and engineers. The new fixtures had to work just as well while operating with substantially reduced volumes of water.[1]

Faucet aeratorAerators on faucets reduce water flow without limiting its usefulness in washing hands or rinsing breakroom dishes. Their low cost and easy installation quickly return value in lower utility costs, including less energy needed when less hot water is used.

Standard water flow aerators allow 2.2 gallons per minute (GPM). Up to 75% more water can be saved by installing water saving flow aerators which allow a 0.5 GPM flow.[2]

WaterSense logoThe Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s WaterSense[3] initiatives include several online resources for commercial building owners and managers. These include the water use tracking capabilities of the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager[4] along with several tools for water assessment:[5]

  • Checklists
  • Worksheets
  • Water Audit Forms
  • Spreadsheets and other software tools

Look for the WaterSense label on all new fixtures. Independent third parties have certified those products to meet EPA specifications for water efficiency and performance.[6]

Maximum reuse and retention

Cooling towerBuilding systems can capture and reuse water from condensate and rain for operations such as irrigation or non-potable water systems. In many engineered systems, water from wash basins or HVAC systems is reclaimed through filtering or other processes. Air handler condensate has limited mineral content which makes it valuable for reuse with minimal to no pre-treatment.[7] Water already used in a cooling system or recycled municipal water, given adequate treatment, can also be a source for cooling tower and irrigation needs.[8]

Stormwater runoff can have substantial value. General Motors reported saving $140,000 in one year at an assembly plant. By filtering stormwater through sand, that single facility avoided discharge fees and reduced its water consumption by more than 20 percent.[9]

Rain barrelGravity and weather can bring rainwater to storage barrels or a cistern.[10] The water from roofs and paved areas can be routed to a rain garden. Rainwater gardens can be attractive and practical green spaces comprised of native grasses, shrubs, and flowers that provide food and shelter for wildlife. These gardens are a practical use of water that might otherwise be routed to storm drains.[11]

Landscape design

Native plantsA building’s gardens and landscape design are essential components of water conservation. Native plants will grow and thrive with less care, less fertilizer, and less water. Landscapers with local experience can engineer or advise when and how long to water the plants they supply.[12] A quick internet search will bring up resources from nearby horticultural societies and educators. One Florida source, the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida provides a free online database of plants, shrubs, and trees that are recommended for its subtropical/tropical climate.[13]

SIGNAGE

Strategically posted signs are powerful tools for achieving optimal water use. One faucet, dripping every 20 seconds, wastes 104 gallons per year. Businesses with a substantial number of break room and lavatory faucets are likely to see benefits by communicating best practices.[14]

Break room signNo one likes to waste water, but if employees don’t know where to report a leaky faucet, that waste will happen. Post a sign so everyone will know:

  • What to report (e.g., leaking faucet, running toilet)
  • How to report it (e.g., phone/voicemail extension, email address)

Find places where people use water and let them participate in conserving it. Thoughtful reminders posted near showers or sinks will cap wasteful use.

MAINTENANCE

Building water fixture maintenance and engineering investments have a short return on investment (ROI) through water conservation and reduced sewage fees.

Insulation on hot water pipes provides energy savings and helps reduce water use. On average, water heating consumes 7% of the energy in a commercial building.[15] When warm water is slow to reach a faucet, the cooler water ahead of it is wasted. Once the faucet is turned off, any water in the pipes will quickly cool, wasting the energy used to heat it. Insulated pipes hold heat longer and can avoid significant energy and water waste.

A tiny geyser at a broken sprinkler head does nothing to enhance a building lawn Instead, it is a visible expense. Frequent irrigation system inspections will cap that water waste.

Broken sprinkler headMonthly inspections by your landscape company will identify damaged nozzles or pipe leaks when each zone is tested. A key component of those tests will verify that water reaches the areas that need it rather than puddling on concrete and asphalt.[16]

If substantial losses persist between monthly inspections, advanced flow sensors can trigger email or text notification when water runs at the wrong time, place, or volume. Seasonal weather patterns should be considered when calculating irrigation needs.

Systems with heat and moisture sensors can respond to weather. If that technology cost exceeds value, irrigation system inspections should include zone-by-zone review of scheduling and clock programming.[17]

For answers to your questions about optimizing office, commercial, or industrial water use, ecoPreserve is here to help.

[1] BCDNetwork.com
[2] PlumbingSupply.com
[3] EPA.gov —  WaterSense for commercial buildings
[4] ENERGYSTAR.gov
[5] EPA.gov  – WaterSense tools
[6] EPA.gov  – WaterSense products
[7] WaterTechOnline.com
[8] Energy.gov
[9] FluenceCorp.com
[10] RainwaterResources.com
[11] EPA.gov – Rain Gardens
[12] ecoPreserve.net – Water-wise landscaping
[13] FloridaYards.org
[14] ecoPreserve.net – Workplace water saving
[15] Propane.com
[16] GreenSourceInc.com
[17] AllianceForWaterEfficiency.com

Jessica Wright

Jessica Wright

Project Manager at ecoPreserve
LEED Green Associate, Florida Water AP - - A problem-solving, innovative manager, Jessica has led projects in varied scenarios including healthcare, food services, higher education, and local government. Her expertise in Zero Waste, sustainable purchasing, and waste minimization and diversion have earned her the lead of ecoPreserve’s Resource Lifecycle services. A graduate of the University of Central Florida, she also holds a degree in Sustainability from the University of Phoenix.
Jessica Wright

@ecopreserve

We empower organizations to reduce environmental impact, improve efficiency, and improve quality of life.
Nine of the 10 warmest years have occurred since 2005. A 50-year timeline of climate change digs deeper to reveal a… https://t.co/Z5BraPEZMk - 2 weeks ago

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Tools tailored to location and need

Disaster resilience requires a select toolset, identified, adapted, or created as needed based on planning calls and inclusive workshop participation.

Business and government organizations today are confronted by threat categories that range from drought to flood, from fire to hurricane, and extend globally to pandemics and sea level rise. Threat categories are broad and diverse, but ecoPreserve and collaborating organizations design resiliency tools for specific local context.

Local needs are identified and verified. Building from that essential understanding, tools are designed, tested in pilot programs, refined, then implemented through action plans.

AWARE of CDC and NIH guidelines

The Baseline Property Condition Assessments described in ASTM E2018-15 do not specify consideration of infectious disease transmission concerns. In a pandemic and post-pandemic environment, that inspection and documentation is essential.

Buildings open to the public must comply with local regulations. For best results and greatest public acceptance, any planning for building repairs and maintenance should not overlook current CDC and NIH guidelines.

Optionally, ecoPreserve's can assist with a comprehensive GBAC STAR™ Accreditation which extends beyond the building to include the goals, actions, equipment, and supplies needed to implement best practices for outbreak prevention, response, and recovery.

Today's challenges/
tomorrow's potential

ecoPreserve collaborates with major community and private organizations in optimizing the resiliency and resource efficiency of their workplaces, venues, and public spaces.

In response to ever-increasing environmental, sociopolitical, and public health challenges, we advocate for and participate in assessment and planning actions that directly address disaster preparations, recovery activities, infrastructure improvements, and smart building/city design.

Online and in-person workshops

ecoPreserve designs and leads workshops in varied formats, to achieve varied goals.

Often an event is held for skill and knowledge development, but some needs of an organization or community are better resolved through collaboration to identify requirements and to design solutions. A range of Disaster Resilience workshops are available for solutions planning and development, as well as for training and communication.

Disaster Planning and Recovery Workshops

  • Identify technical and business process gaps
  • Define stakeholders, recovery teams, and processes/functionalities necessary for operation
  • Highlight missed expectations from a data loss and recovery time perspective
  • Address compliance with regulatory agencies and industry standards
Here's how to request further information. Thank you for reaching out!

Here's how to request further information. Thank you for reaching out!

Facility Condition Report

The report is prepared in accordance with the recommendations of ASTM E2018-15, Standard Guide for Property Condition Assessments. This is a partial list of contents:

  • PHYSICAL CONDITION
    • General condition of the building, grounds, and appurtenances
    • Physical deficiencies, their significance, and suggested remedies
    • Photographs
    • Safety issues observed
  • INFECTIOUS DISEASE SPREAD POTENTIAL
  • OPPORTUNITIES
    • Potential operating efficiencies
    • Electricity and water use reductions
    • High-efficiency interior and exterior lighting
  • ORDER OF MAGNITUDE RENOVATION BUDGET
    • Recommended interior finishes
    • Construction costs

Risk Mitigation Improvements

  • IAQ
    • Airflow
    • Temperature and humidity
    • Vertical transportation (escalators and elevators)
  • HVAC EQUIPMENT
    • Settings
    • Conditions
    • Capability
    • Filtration
  • FLOORPLAN
    • Traffic patterns
  • FURNISHINGS
    • Placement for social distancing
    • Clear barriers where social distancing is not possible

Interior Elements

  • Foundation
  • Building frame and roof
  • Structural elements
    • Floors, walls, ceilings
    • Access and egress
    • Vertical transportation (escalators and elevators)
  • HVAC equipment and ductwork
  • Utilities
    • Electrical
    • Plumbing
  • Safety and fire protection

Grounds and Appurtenances

  • Façades or curtainwall
  • Topography
  • Storm water drainage
  • Paving, curbing, and parking
  • Flatwork
  • Landscaping
  • Recreational facilities
Here's how to request further information. Thank you for reaching out!

AWARE of CDC and NIH guidelines

The Baseline Property Condition Assessments described in ASTM E2018-15 do not specify consideration of infectious disease transmission concerns. In a pandemic and post-pandemic environment, that inspection and documentation is essential.

Buildings open to the public must comply with local regulations. For best results and greatest public acceptance, any planning for building repairs and maintenance should not overlook current CDC and NIH guidelines.

Optionally, ecoPreserve's can assist with a comprehensive GBAC STAR™ Accreditation which extends beyond the building to include the goals, actions, equipment, and supplies needed to implement best practices for outbreak prevention, response, and recovery.

An OPTIMIZED Assessment

Certified Sustainability Consultants on a facility assessment team can discover ways to lower energy costs. Their understanding of HVAC equipment suitability and condition along with the specifics of LED lighting retrofits can provide offsets for needed investments in upgrades and replacements.

Knowledge of water systems can bring further savings while averting water waste. It can all be part of an assessment which might otherwise overlook water fixtures and irrigation schedules.

How should a facility be ASSESSED?

A thorough facility assessment finds the issues - on the surface or below - which have a potential negative impact on the building. That brings the facility to meet building codes. Beyond that, the assessment proactively addresses the deficiencies not covered by code.

The occupants of a building benefit as the assessment reveals conditions having a potential impact on their health or safety. The assessment must not overlook those conditions, nor fail to consider the frequency and duration of occupant visits.