Office buildings offer a great opportunity to prioritize water efficient measures. One of the primary benefits of a water efficient strategy to a business is the financial savings. Over the past 10 years, the costs of water and wastewater services have risen at a rate well above the consumer price index, and office building managers can expect that these and other utility costs will continue to increase at an even faster rate.
Included below you will find a comprehensive guide to reducing the operating costs of your facility. These measures will also support your building’s sustainability goals.
The Water Efficient Kitchen
About 6% of an office’s water use occurs in the kitchen.
▢ Turn off the continuous flow used to wash drain trays at any beverage islands. Clean only as needed.
▢ Adjust ice machines to dispense less if ice is being wasted.
▢ Presoak utensils and dishes in basins of water instead of running water.
▢ Utilize automatic shut-off faucets.
▢ Consider keeping a pitcher of water in the refrigerator to avoid running the tap before getting cold water.
▢ Install WaterSense certified faucets or retrofit existing faucets with WaterSense aerators.
Water Efficient Restrooms
Restroom water use accounts for approximately 24% of the building’s total.
▢ Repair leaks immediately! A toilet can leak more than 50 gallons per day, and a dripping faucet can leak 1,000 gallons a week.
▢ Existing faucets can consume as much as 2.5 GPM. Replace with WaterSense fixtures, or if the faucet does not need to be replaced, use low-volume WaterSense faucet aerators.
▢ Replace tank toilets that can use 1.6 gallons per flush (GPF) or much more with WaterSense certified toilets that use 1.28 GPF or less.
▢ Retrofit inefficient tankless toilets with a flush valve that uses 1.28 GPF or less.
▢Urinals can use as much as 5.0 GPF. Replace the unit or retrofit the flush valve to use as little as 0.25 GPF!
▢ Showers, if offered at your facility, can use 2.5 GPM or more. Showerheads are easily replaced with WaterSense fixtures that dramatically reduce usage without sacrificing the quality of the shower.
Water Efficient Building Maintenance
▢ Repair plumbing leaks immediately.
▢ Read water meters monthly and compare the results. Monitoring meters aides in identifying leaks as well as conservation efforts.
▢ Check water system pressure. If the pressure exceeds 60 psi, install pressure-reducing valves.
▢ Adjust boiler and cooling tower blowdown rate to maintain total dissolved solids (TDS) levels at manufacturers’ specifications.
▢ Replace water-cooled air conditioning units with air-cooled systems. If replacement isn’t practical, shut off the water cooled units when not in use.
Water Efficient Landscaping
▢ Look for signs of established plants beginning to wilt before watering, and water the landscape only as needed.
▢ Irrigate when wind and evaporation are at the lowest — early morning and at night.
▢ Install automatic rain shut-off mechanism on sprinkler systems.
▢ Avoid runoff (wasted water) by checking to verify sprinklers are directing water to the landscape, not driveways, parking lots, sidewalks, or other paved areas.
▢ Adjust the system to accommodate seasonal changes — sprinklers often do not need to run as much during fall and spring.
▢ The use of native plants in the landscape means those plants can excel without the need for additional irrigation. Drought-tolerant, low-maintenance, or xeriscape plants will also lower the need for irrigation.
▢ Use mulch around landscape plants to limit evaporation and weed growth.
General Water Efficient Measures
▢ All hoses should have shut-off valves.
▢ Use a broom to clear paved areas from debris instead of a hose.
▢ Use reclaimed water from rain barrels or other collection systems for irrigation where practical.
▢ Educate employees about the importance of water conservation and the measures employed to reduce water use.
▢ Assign an employee to be involved in the restaurant’s conservation efforts.
▢ Install signs in key areas, such as the restrooms and on tables, that encourage water conservation.
Saving water matters, and not only can you impact the bottom line of your operational budget, but you can also ease the burden on the municipal systems that process the water. Once you’ve identified key areas where your business can save, be sure to check Sustainable Supply for low prices and fast, free shipping on orders over $75.