In today’s business milieu, facilities managers are constantly pressured to become more environmentally conscious. Unfortunately, in this race to suitable buildings, water conservation still remains one of the most frequently overlooked areas. Establishing and implementing effective water conservation strategies is easier than one may presume, and can lead to considerable savings over time. Below are four approaches that are helpful in sustaining this strained resource while maximizing your profits at the same time.
1. Lower your exterior water flow. A very few FMs have the time to water the entire space of their commercial landscapes by hand. Particularly because of that, irrigation accounts for about 30% of the average facility’s water use. There are a few solutions that can be applied to irrigate more efficiently. First of all, you need to stop wasting runoff water, which can be accomplished by assuring that your equipment works correctly. Wet pavement is a red flag that indicates your system may be providing too much water or spraying where it shouldn’t. Water runoff not only wastes water, but can be also a safety hazard. Runoff may be caused by improperly installed equipment or by broken sprinklers’ heads and pipes. Another way to lower exterior water flow is to consider spray alternatives. While a sprinkler system is easier to retrofit, a drip system is more water-efficient because it delivers moisture to the roots of plants. Replacing the irrigation system may be very costly, so you may want to consider using add-on devices, such us hoses, smart sensors, or oil moisture dispensers It’s a great temporary solution with low input costs, if your irrigation system is still in a decent condition. Lastly, don’t forget that fountains and similar installations can use recirculated water or alternative water sources, such as rainwater. Read more about lowering exterior water flow here
2. Slash your water consumption and spending with easy retrofits and replacements. Older faucets, toilets, and urinals can be incredibly wasteful. Installing an automated or low-flow solutions, although requires up front investment, can help you dramatically cut costs in the long run. Touch free technology further reduces usage by cutting off the water flow when it’s not needed. The return of investment in case of faucets has the quickest payback period – typically within 1-2 years of the converting.
3. Prevent costly plumbing leaks. Plumbing leaks can come from a variety of sources, including very common but difficult to diagnose leaks in the flapper or tank ball of the toilet (read more here) and presumably easy to manage water fixtures that drip,. Hidden and neglected leaks can easily waste thousands of gallons of water a year and if addressed, can cause huge repair costs. The most important part of avoiding higher utility bills and repair costs due to leaks is to take preventive measures and immediately address any leaks.
4. Water-efficient kitchen. Commercial kitchen equipment water efficiency is especially important because the high volume applications typically require the use of mostly hot water. Therefore, making sure commercial kitchen equipment uses water efficiently affords both significant water and energy savings. There are few thing that can be done to assure water conservation in the kitchen. First of all, choose a pre-rinse spray valve that uses 1.3 gpm or less. Secondly, replace old dish washers (both residential scale for small businesses and commercial grade for dining facilities) with new models that consume less water and energy. If possible, eliminate garbage disposals. Better yet, install a food pulper, which uses significantly less water to turn food scraps otherwise flushed down the drain into a valuable composting resource.
To learn more about developing a water management plan, read the Facility Manager’s Guide to Water Management prepared by the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association Regional Water Conservation Committee with assistance from Black and Veatch.