Is your Building Sending Money Down the Drain?
Water is an essential resource for human life, and its supplies are not limitless. Preserving it is essential for the preservation of the environment but also makes financial sense for any business. At Green Building Consulting and Engineering (GBCE) we believe that saving the planet makes business sense and reducing your water bill is one way to do so.
Water scarcity is increasing with climate change, therefore, reducing water consumption is key for ensuring a sustainable future. Saving water starts with water conservation where we would look for strategies to avoid using water in the first place. This can include habits, operational procedures or choosing technologies that do not rely on water in the first place. Secondly, we would look into water efficient strategies. These include choosing fixtures and fittings that save water by design and selecting appliances such as laundry equipment or HVAC which use less water than conventional systems. These fixtures and systems use less water while providing the same comfort (for showers for instance) and performance (for laundry for example) Lastly, we look into water sources and how to minimize our reliance on ecosystems and potable water sources. Here we consider water reuse, water recycling and rainwater harvesting to supply the building's water needs. The responsible use of water and avoiding its waste are the key drivers to water preservation. In this article, we will focus on indoor water reduction.
Replace old fitting technologies with improved ones
As sustainability becomes more of a concern globally, product manufacturers are providing improved technologies which optimize water usage and reduce waste.
Toilet flushing accounts for around 24 percent of all household water use, and is the main contributor of indoor water use according to the American Water Works Association. A regular toilet can use 10 liters per flush whereas a water efficient one would use 4.8 to 3 liters per flush. Having a double flush system is also recommended for saving water.
Standard shower heads use approximately 9 liters per minute at 550 kPa. Improved shower heads use between 5.6 and 7.5 liters per minute. According to the EPA: “If every home in the US replaced existing shower heads with ‘WaterSense’ labeled models, we could save more than 260 billion gallons of water and nearly $5.4 billion in water and energy costs across the country annually!” (WaterSense fittings limit water consumption to 7.5 liters per minute).
Faucets and Aerator
In modern green buildings faucets are also more water efficient, they are often equipped with aerators. This small device, screwed at the tip of the faucet, creates a non-splashing stream; a mixture of water and air, therefore reducing the amount of water used. Older less efficient faucets use around 10 liters per minute at 415 kPa whereas modern and water saving faucets use between 5.6 to 3.7 liters per minute.
According to the USGBC buildings can earn up to 7 LEED points in the ‘Water Efficiency’ category for ‘Indoor Water Use Reduction’. The credit is intended “to minimize indoor demand for water through high-efficiency fixtures and fittings”.
To learn more about the LEED credits available for Indoor Water Use Reduction visit the ‘Indoor Water Use Reduction’ credits page for more information.