Summer can present a significant drain on resources for many facilities. The energy costs associated with higher temperatures and greater demand for air conditioning aren't the only efficiency issues facility managers should be aware of. The drier conditions and heat can also represent quite a load on a building's water usage.
Here's a few things to keep in mind regarding water use this summer so that when the mercury rises, your water bill won't.
The importance of monitoring
At the root of an effective water efficiency policy is monitoring and tracking the demands of your facility. Assessing all the equipment that uses water and keeping a log of the amount of water that gets recycled versus not can be important in keeping an eye on your facility's water efficiency. The Environmental Protection Agency outlined the guidelines for assessing water efficiency, a process that can dovetail nicely with energy efficiency management and even uses the same ENERGY STAR standards. Water meters can be installed and integrated into your centralized CMMS for easier monitoring.
Any leaks or broken equipment that are identified as part of your building assessment should be addressed through scheduled building maintenance. Plumbing leaks, especially minor ones, may not always make themselves apparent as squeaky wheels, especially alongside other larger and more pressing building maintenance concerns, but it's important to make plugging leaks a priority. If left unattended, leaks can constitute a significant financial burden over time. According to the EPA, a single leaky toilet can be responsible for a loss of over 21,000 gallons of water a month, adding up to approximately $2,100 lost every year, and the financial impact increases exponentially with larger and more complex pieces of equipment.
Updating for efficiency
Fixing leaky plumbing can help manage water loss, but it definitely constitutes reactive maintenance. In contrast, updating old or outdated equipment for better water efficiency is a proactive step that can save money and time in maintenance costs later. One area that is commonly targeted in this regard is the indoor plumbing. Most toilets and urinals are notoriously inefficient, but a report by the Arizona Municipal Water User's Association indicated that flush valves can be adjusted on existing toilets to reduce the amount of water used per flush, all without reducing the effectiveness of the flush itself. Devices can also be installed to further increase water efficiency, and in extreme cases - capital planning permitting - lowflow toilets can be installed to replace their older and less efficient counterparts.