Facility management is largely a process of resource monitoring. Whether those resources are dollars, man power, electricity or water, facility managers constantly find themselves striving to boost their buildings' operating efficiency.
Water consumption can be a significant issue, especially during the summer. For facilities that house decorative water features like fountains or birdbaths this is of particular concern. Here are some tips to help your water features give your building the extra aesthetic value you're after without breaking the bank in the process.
Know where water use is at its highest
In general, water consumption is localized to specific pieces of equipment. Even so, not all water-using infrastructure consumes the resource at the same rate. You may have already guessed where the major water-use hot spots are within your facility - the bathrooms, kitchens and fountains - but where is your water really going?
If you're concerned about a fountain or similar feature monopolizing your facility's water budget, don't worry. The real culprit is your bathroom and its plumbing fixtures. According to FMLink, bathrooms account for approximately 60 percent of water use in office buildings, and about 47 percent of consumption in commercial facilities. Next in line in terms of thirsty fixtures are cooling systems, which in office buildings compose the remaining 40 percent of water usage. Kitchens such as those used in commercial restaurants can also be a significant source of water consumption.
Tracking your building's water use is essential for maintaining a higher level of operational efficiency and sustainability. Fortunately, many CMMS dashboards enable facility managers to track water consumption by sector rather than for the overall building as a whole. This makes it possible to compare various aspects of your building's operation against industry benchmarks to determine if your facility could benefit from an upgrade.
Avoid water hazards
While water usage is a significant factor when maintaining your building's features, there are other things to take into consideration as well. In fact, without proper building maintenance, your water features can actually indirectly cost you money or even endanger the safety of your tenants.
For example, it's no secret that mosquitos and other flying pests are drawn to standing water. Ensure your plumbing is leak-free and your drainage system is unobstructed and functioning properly. Not only can these tiny maintenance peccadilloes attract bugs, but they can also lead to water damage.
Effective plumbing management can also play a role in preserving your building's public health requirements. Certain pathogens, most notably the legionella bacteria that causes Legionnaire's disease, thrive in areas with standard water or poorly maintained plumbing. ASHRAE has even laid out industry regulations governing the maintenance and operation of any building with water features that is open to the public. FMLink noted that the regulation, known as ASHRAE Standard 188p, lays down the criteria for which buildings must abide by. It also offers advice on how to establish a facility-wide auditing and maintenance response program to catch and address any issues.
Conservation is key
Savvy facility managers will do everything they can to conserve water while operating their building, both to lessen the impact on the operations budget and as a means of increasing sustainability. As with any conservation effort, auditing use is the first step. An inspection of your building's plumbing and other water features can point out any immediate problems that can be addressed to reduce water consumption.
Aside from this, however, you may wish to upgrade your facility with more water-efficient fixtures. For example, low-flow toilets can drastically reduce water use with each flush, making a plumbing retrofit a smart capital investment in the long term.