Facility Dude

Celebrate an important day in the world of water

By FacilityDude
Dec 30, 2013

Maintenance, Facilities Management, Energy Management

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row of toilets Sometimes you'll miss an event so fantastic and wonderful that you feel you have to celebrate it even after the day has passed. No, we're not talking missing a friend's birthday party or sleeping through New Year's. Rather, it's World Toilet Day, celebrated Nov. 19, but worth keeping in mind all year round.

The purpose of the U.N.-recognized World Toilet Day is to raise awareness and improve sanitation and water management throughout the world. While most American offices do not have to worry about a lack of bathrooms, the event serves as a stark reminder about how different situations are between countries. While most homes and facilities have an abundance of water, building maintenance managers still have the ability to reduce unnecessary waste of water where they can. Not only will more conservative water management save the world precious water, it could also save your facility significant amounts of money.

The rising cost of water

Approximately 17 percent of public water supply usage comes from the commercial and institutional sector, including office buildings, hospitals, hotels, restaurants schools and industrial buildings, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Depending on the facility, water is used for various purposes. Kitchens, for example, make up a much larger percentage of water usage in restaurants than in offices. However, in all facilities, domestic and restroom use makes up the largest percentage of water consumption, using between 30 and 45 percent of water among all kinds of facilities. Other major water consuming activities - especially in offices - include cooling and heating, as well as landscaping.

The cost of water has increased well past the consumer price index over the past 10 years, according to the EPA. Building managers should anticipate the costs of water, wastewater services and other utilities to rise even further as aging water supply systems become less efficient, the agency noted. That means its time to get serious about water consumption.

Water cooler gossip

If you're running an office building, your restroom water usage and your cooling and heating probably make up the majority of your overall water consumption. According to the EPA, an average of 37 percent of water use goes toward restrooms, while heating and cooling takes up 28 percent. Landscaping and kitchens combined barely equal the amount used by restrooms. If you're going to get serious about water consumption, its time to focus on your bathrooms and HVAC.

What you should really be gossiping about at the water cooler is energy tracking software. If you're curious about your water usage, UtilityTrac Plus will help you keep better track of your utility bills and energy use indices. With proper submetering, you'll know exactly where your water is going. You can also use MaintenanceEdge to record of work orders, which will keep you informed of what equipment is becoming less efficient and may be worth replacing.

Saving blue and green

After you've tracked your water usage and decided it's much too high, it's time to do something about it. Facilities in particular have a number of ways to reduce their water usage. Particularly old and inefficient toilets, showerheads, faucets and urinals can all be replaced with higher-efficiency appliances that have earned the WaterSense label. The EPA-approved designation means that those products result in significant energy savings while still operating as effectively or even more so than standard appliances. Another way to reduce water usage is to make sure that the automatic sensors on faucets and toilets are functioning properly. MaintenanceEdge can help you remember routine maintenance checks.

As for HVAC, the EPA has also recommended monitoring cooling towers and boilers to make sure they are running at maximum efficiency. They can even be made to run more efficiently by running them off air handler condensate or even captured rain water.

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