As changes to local climates drives water shortages all around the globe, effective water management becomes more and more crucial. When we consider the massive droughts in California; water scarcity in developing nations; and restrictions on water use throughout the U.S., it's clear that conserving water is in everyone's best interest.
According to the EPA (in partnership with WaterSense), commercial buildings consume approximately 17% of the public water supply spending millions every year on water. As the price of water continues to rise, the economic incentive for efficient water management grows.
Strategies for Efficient Water Management
By developing strategies to reduce waste and utilize water more efficiently, commercial and industrial organizations can drastically lower costs, and gain recognition as community leaders in sustainability. Here are a few examples of how facility managers and building owners can adapt to promote efficient use, and eliminate unnecessary waste.
- Smart Metering and Submetering. If you're not measuring it, you can't manage it. Cloud-connected submetering of building water use allows for yearly, monthly, weekly, daily, and even hourly monitoring of water use. Through submetering, granular data collection allows managers to see precisely who or what is using how much water at what times. Allowing them to identify problem areas, track changes that happen after efficiency upgrades, identify leaks, and identify equipment that's about to fail.
- Leaks and Waste. Leaks account for an average of 6% of water use in commercial and industrial buildings which, according to the EPA, bears a steep cost. A leaking toilet costs about $2,100 a year in lost water; while a broken distribution line can cost up to $64,000. Don't let these cost snowball over time. Take an aggressive stance against leaks, using frequent auditory and visual inspection, submetering, and preventative equipment.
- Education. Educate all building employees, occupants, and visitors about proper water use. Much of any facility's water use is decided by the behaviors of individual users. Communicate use reduction goals to all stakeholders. Offer suggestions to help people decrease water need, like taking shorter showers, and provide education about why water efficiency is important.
- Reuse Water. Wherever possible, collect and reuse water that would otherwise be discarded. Use treated grey water to water landscaping, or collect rainwater to use in facility cleaning.
- Planning and Management. Developing a plan for reaching greater water efficiency is crucial. Use submetering to get fine grained understanding of how your facility uses water, identify leaks and waste, and identify systems or equipment where efficiency could be improved. Planning integrates all of the strategies listed above to develop an inclusive water management plan. Regular inspection for leaks, regular water use audits, monitoring of changes in use, water reclamation, and stakeholder education are all important aspects of a well-rounded water management plan.
- Regular evaluation. Use water usage data to continuously monitor shifts in use. When goals are met, celebrate them. When usage rises, look for the systems that are consuming more water. Sudden shifts in equipment water usage might be early signs of failure. If the shift is due to changes in peoples' use behavior (perhaps due to seasonal changes), provide education about potential alternatives.
With rising costs for water and strains on America's wet infrastructure, the importance of efficient water management increases. Don't let this precious resource go to waste while draining your facilities budget. Begin upgrading your buildings's water efficiency today.