It can be easy to forget that water isn’t sustainable, that there’s a limit to it. Although it can be used over again, there’s still a finite amount. Facilities need to consider their role in water conservation.
“The more that we understand about water conservation and how we can create impact to that, the better off we all are,” says Mike Orlando, director of sales for food service at T&S Brass.
Orlando sees firsthand how water use can impact an organization. He offers ways to track water use to reduce it, while also saving money on running your facility.
Why Tracking Water Use is Important
Installing a flow meter and conducting an audit will allow you to measure the water flow rate at the incoming water source and determine if it’s right for your needs.
“A lot of times engineers and architects will put a product in place, and they assume it’s for one use, but it may or may not be used for that in the field,” Orlando says as a reason to conduct a water audit.
He uses a hand sink as an example of how a flow meter can audit water use and determine if it’s right for how the sink is being used. Most hand sinks are set up with a 2.2-gallon-per-minute aerator—the flow is usually stenciled, stapled or engraved into the front of the product.
[Related: Downside to Reducing Water Use]
You only need about a half a gallon to a gallon of water per minute to wash your hands, Orlando says. “You’re only wetting your hands to start with. And at the end of the process, you’re actually using a little bit of water to rinse that dirt and debris and soap down the drain,” he explains.
On the other hand, if you need a lot of water and a lot of force behind that water, a low-flow device isn’t right for that water source. Orlando gives the example of a 20-gallon tank that needs to be filled quickly.
“Filling it up slower is actually the wrong way to go, because if you put an aerator on the device that requires you to fill a 20-gallon tank, if you fill it slower, you’re actually expending more energy than you’re saving,” he says.
When deciding what’s right for your water source needs, familiarize yourself with the operation and the impact each product will have. Orlando says to talk to your engineers and architects about your goals. “You need to go out and actually understand how the water is being used and determine what’s really right for you.”
3 Water Monitoring Benefits
1. Save Water
Going back to the sink example, everyone no matter the facility type or occupant, has to wash his or her hands the same way. The problem with washing hands, Orlando says, is that the water runs the entire time.
“If you understand that, you understand what a tremendous waste that can be,” Orlando says. “You don’t really need 2.2 gallons per minute to wash your hands. You really only need about a half a gallon to a gallon of water per minute.”
Moving from a 2.2-gallon-per-minute aerator to a 1 gallon per minute or half a gallon per minute saves on water costs—and, as a result, sewer costs.
2. Energy Use
Beyond saving water by reducing the amount used to wash hands, the energy savings is significant. With less water to warm, less energy is used. “There’s a tremendous amount of energy used because in most operations, most buildings, you are spending a lot of money to heat that water,” Orlando says.
3. Building Certification Points
Water conservation devices can help owners and managers looking to achieve building certifications. Either way, building to those standards will help with water efficiency.
Use Financial Savings Elsewhere
When designing an efficient building, water is often overlooked, but it should be considered to reduce operational costs.
“Those operational savings are going to be had year after year after year, as long as those low-flow devices are in place, so, it’s free money,” Orlando emphasizes.
“It’s up to you to take advantage of that, but you can use that money to pay for other things. You want some new lighting? Well, use the operational savings to pay for new lighting or new seating or new décor, whatever it happens to be.”
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