By Lynn Clark, CFM, FMP, LEED AP BD+C

MAKE EVERY DROP COUNT – At Home & At Work

Did you know that an American home can waste, on average, more than 11,000 gallons of water every year due to running toilets, dripping faucets, and other household leaks? Nationwide, more than 1 trillion gallons of water leak from U.S. homes annually. That’s why.

More than 6% of a building’s total water used in the commercial setting is lost to leaks as well. In the work environment, Facility and Property Managers can save through these practices:
• Eliminate “once-through” cooling of equipment with municipal water by recycling water flow to cooling tower or replacing with air-cooled equipment.
• Minimize the water used in cooling equipment in accordance with manufacturers’ recommendations. Shut off cooling units when not needed.
• Sweep or blow paved areas to clean, rather than hosing off.
• Enlist the help of rain sensors that can help decrease water wasted in the landscape by turning off the irrigation system when it is raining.
• Examine points where the sprinkler heads connect to pipes or hoses. If water pools in your landscape or you have large wet areas, you could have a leak in your system. A leak about as small as the tip of a ballpoint pen (or 1/32nd of an inch) can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month!

The Business Case for Water Efficiency

Over the past 10 years, the costs of water and wastewater services have risen at a rate well above the consumer price index. Office building managers can expect these and other utility costs to continue to increase in order to offset the costs of replacing aging water supply systems. The business benefits of implementing water-efficiency measures in and around office buildings can include savings on a building’s energy, water and operating costs.

Virginia Mason Medical Center saved approximately 76,000 gallons of water and Bonneville Power Administration saved more than 80 million gallons through leak detection programs. There are other examples on the WaterSense® website under Commercial Best Management Practices. One case study showed that an office park outdoor landscaping area, facility managers saved 12.5 million gallons of water in 2009, saved $47,000 in 2009 and received return on investment in 1.5 years.

Drops to Watts

It takes energy to deliver and treat the water you use every day. Letting your faucet run for five minutes uses about as much energy as letting a 60-watt light bulb run for 14 hours. WaterSense®, a voluntary EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) Partnership Program develops specifications by a neutral certifier for water efficient products; and, provides the WaterSense® label to the manufacturing partners that produce products that meet or exceed these guidelines. Launched in 2006, WaterSense® encourages water efficiency through the use of consumer products from weather-based irrigation controllers to the faucet aerators on the kitchen sink.

Choices That Make a Difference

“When consumers pick products with the WaterSense® label, they will make a smart choice that will save money, save water, and help save the rivers, lakes, and other water supplies in their own backyards. It will put the power in everyone’s hands to protect the places they swim, fish, and get their drinking water.” – Rebecca Wodder, President American Rivers Resources for Facility Managers on the WaterSense® website:

Water Efficiency Pay Back

Check-out these rebate opportunities through local utilities: https://www3.epa.gov/watersense/rebate_finder_saving_money_water.html Many utilities offer audits and will work with commercial ratepayers on their systems to upgrade to more efficient plumbing and irrigation fixtures. Leaks: https://www3.epa.gov/watersense/commercial/managing_water.html#tabs-leaks BMPs for a Commercial Setting: https://www3.epa.gov/watersense/commercial/types.html

For More Information: Call (866) WTR-SENS or Email: watersense@epa.gov

Originally published in  IFMA Seattle Newsletter | Spring 2017

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