Experts report that water and wastewater-service costs have risen over the last 10 years at a rate higher than the consumer price index. Water-related costs will keep increasing for commercial buildings as municipalities and other water utilities replace old, failing systems.
When working out the details for your new commercial structure, make water management a key part of your facility planning to help reduce costs. Here are three tips to help you plan and build a water-conserving building.
1. Develop a Water Management Plan
Form a water management team to develop and implement a water management plan for any new commercial structure. Create a team made up of people with a full range of skills relating to water management, including those with budgeting, plumbing, and facility-management expertise.
Goals of the water management team should include the following:
- Researching water-efficient plumbing fixtures
- Planning for leak-free infrastructure
- Developing educational programs for employees
- Exploring graywater and other sustainable reuse of water
Your water management team's first task is to calculate the total projected water usage for the building as well as total energy costs to heat and store water. These figures give your team a starting point to find ways to save both water and the facility's additional expenses for water.
The team should implement ongoing practices and programs to achieve water-savings goals where flow is higher than projected. When goals are achieved, the water management team should acknowledge and reward the responsible staff members who helped reach the goals.
2. Invest in Sustainable Fixtures Throughout Buildings
The great thing about planning water use for a new building is the opportunity to install water-efficient fixtures right from the start. Investigate the ways that designers of similar commercial structures to yours have used fixtures to successfully cut water flow and costs.
Some of the fixtures that save water include:
- Air-cooled equipment
- Automatic shut-offs on hoses
- Water brooms for floor cleaning
- High-efficiency fixtures in restrooms
- Aerators for sink faucets
In a high-rise or large commercial building, use pressure reducing valves throughout the plumbing system. Pressure reducing valves offset the heavy flow created by the booster pumps that deliver water to storage tanks and the more remote water fixtures in the building.
High-pressure water results in a lot of wasted water and damage to pipes. The increased water flow created by booster pumps is also often greater in volume than the rated flow capacities of the fixtures, so leaking and water wastage are inevitable.
Building codes generally require pressure reducing valves when water pressure reaches 80 psi. However, additional pressure reducing valves will reduce water flow and save your facility from spending more on utility and infrastructure repairs.
3. Use Technology to Your Advantage
Modern plumbing technology has greatly reduced the water usage of fixtures. Compared to water fixtures manufactured before 1992, modern toilets, showers, urinals, and faucets use anywhere from 63 percent to over 93 percent less water to operate.
The touchless sink faucet is one of the contemporary water-saving wonders you can use in your building. The touchless faucet has an infrared sensor that only allows water to flow when the sensor detects hands under the faucet.
Point-of-use water heaters are another modern marvel of water efficiency. Rather than heating, storing, and maintaining a large amount of water as a central boiler system does, the point-of-use water heaters are placed throughout a building. Less water and energy are wasted with a point-of-use water-heater system. Instead of delivering hot water through long runs of pipes, water is available close to the heating sources.
Keep track of water savings realized by the use of new plumbing technology. Your water management team should continually monitor the water usage of all fixtures throughout your structure to develop your facility's ongoing water-related sustainability goals.
Plan your next building in Oakland, California with expert commercial and industrial plumbing help from King Trenchless. We work diligently with you to ensure your commercial building plumbing is efficient, safe, and code-compliant.