Water is the basis for life, and it is becoming increasingly scarce. Due to climate change and a steady growth in population, we can expect steeper droughts and more demand for water in the near future.
Water conservation technologies and strategies are often the most overlooked aspects of a building’s design, operations and maintenance strategy. However, the planning for various water uses within a building is increasingly becoming a high priority. This is due to a number of reasons, namely that new and existing water resources are becoming increasingly scarce in a number of regions throughout the world, per capita water consumption is increasing annually, water and sewer rates have increased dramatically over the last decade (100-400%), and new water supply options are too costly or altogether unavailable—often resulting in stringent water use requirements in new construction applications and increased efficiency requirements on existing buildings.
There is an increasing recognition of the water, energy, operation and maintenance savings that can be realized through the implementation of water saving initiatives.
Water Conservation Strategies:
There are a number of strategies that can be employed to reduce the amount of water consumed at a facility. In general terms, these methods include water conservation strategies that are designed based on the principle of “Doing More With Less” without sacrificing productivity, performance, comfort, or quality. As such, these strategies typically increase productivity per unit of water input. Additionally, system optimization (i.e., efficient water systems design, leak detection, and repair), water conservation measures, and water reuse/recycling systems can be utilized in any comprehensive water conservation program. More specifically, a wide range of technologies and measures can be employed within each of these strategies to save water and associated energy consumption. These Best Management Practices include:
- Water-efficient plumbing fixtures – ultra low-flow toilets and urinals, waterless urinals, low-flow and sensored sinks, low-flow showerheads, and water-efficient dishwashers and washing machines
- Irrigation and landscaping measures – water-efficient irrigation systems, irrigation control systems, low-flow sprinkler heads, water-efficient scheduling practices, and Xeriscape
- Water recycling or reuse measures – Gray water and process recycling systems
- Methods to reduce water use in HVAC and other cooling systems – walk-in refrigerators, ice machines, AC units
- Public Information and Education Programs
The human factor is critical to achieving the desired results from water conserving strategies, and development of an information and education campaign can help your facility in making the human factor work in favor of water conservation initiatives. However, even with the most robust water conservation program many companies can still find that it’s not enough to meet their desired reduction goals.
As much as we want to conserve water, we can’t avoid using it, thus resulting in a water footprint for each person. The average person in the US is responsible for nearly 2,000 gallons of water a day. Nearly 95% of your water footprint is hidden in the food we eat, energy we use, products we buy, and services we rely on.
Water Restoration Certificates are a great way for individuals, companies and organizations to extend their water conservation initiatives with programs that provide farmers, ranchers, and other water users with an economic incentive to devise new water management solutions that restore water to critically-dewatered ecosystems.
We have partnered with Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) to educate communities about endangered waterways and to offer a viable solution for balancing our water footprint through BEF Water Restoration Certificates® (BEF WRCs ®). Each water restoration certificate represents 1,000 gallons of water restored for the recreational and ecological vitality of critical freshwater ecosystems. To assure quality, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, a widely recognized leader in freshwater restoration for the past 12 years, reviews all BEF WRC® projects to ensure optimum environmental benefit.