Water Efficiency: The Overlooked Low-Hanging Fruit

by | May 20, 2014

faucetWater saving measures are often easily implemented and can save thousands of dollars a year but are often overlooked, according to Buildings magazine.

The “low-hanging fruit” of water saving methods are often ignored in favor of high-efficiency HVAC systems or new lighting, but their payback periods are often under a year, the magazine says. The publication has highlighted three case studies where water savings have garnered large monetary savings.

Tulsa Community College – Tulsa, Okla.

After an audit, the campus installed 2,050 square feet of rain gardens, a 1,700-gallon rainwater harvesting system and a solar-powered water heating system. The college also replaced 700 toilets and urinals and 600 faucets with low flow models.

The college also added sub-metering to its cooling tower setup, allowing it to receive sewer abatement credit for the amount of water lost to evaporation or drift. This measure cut around 70 percent from the billable sewer charges the college paid.

Improvements resulted in savings of around $130,000 a year and a payback period of less than six years.

Lenkin Properties – Washington, D.C.

Lenkin hired Water Management, Inc. for an efficiency project at a 103,284-sq-ft office building in Northwest Washington. The conservation consultant installed new valves on on existing toilets as well as installing new, efficient toilets. The project cost $17,740 and saves the building $16,000 a year in water charges.

Hershey Medical Center – Hershey, Penn.

The 2 million-sq-ft medical facility was using a excess amount of steam for heating a ventilation purposes. An analysis found that around 20 percent of the medical center’s steam traps were malfunctioning. As a result the facility replaced over 600 steam traps. Some 39 atmospheric vacuum breakers were also installed. 

Those changes saved the hospital $230,000 a year and has a payback period of just over two years.

In October, Klaus Reichardt, founder and CEO of Waterless Co. Inc., wrote a column for Environmental Leader detailing steps for building managers to take to gain peak water efficiency. Reichardt suggests updating fixtures, tracking water use and investigating alternative water sources.

Picture Credit: Water saving via Shutterstock

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