Water Efficiency to Become Critical in Green Building Designs
Over the next five years, water efficiency and conservation will become critical factors in green design, construction and product selection, according to McGraw-Hill Construction’s latest SmartMarket Report with support from The Chicago Faucet Company and Sloan Valve Company. The report finds that architecture and engineering (A/E) firms, contractors and owners believe that water efficiency is quickly becoming a higher priority than other aspects of green building such as energy efficiency and waste reduction.
A key finding of the Water Use in Buildings study reveals that 85 percent of industry believes that water efficiency will be an extremely important aspect of a green building by 2013, up from 69 percent who believe that is the case this year.
Buildings consume 20 percent of the world’s available water, a resource that becomes scarcer each year, according to the United Nations Environmental Program. Efficient practices and products, such as grey water treatment and low-flow plumbing fixtures, provide significant opportunities for the A/E industry to build high-tech, low-water-demand projects that create green buildings, according to the organization. The study shows that brand awareness is strongest for high-efficiency toilets (identified by 48 percent of respondents), water-saving sinks (30 percent), and waterless urinals (23 percent).
Savings can be significant for cities across the nation. If businesses in California, for example, adopt proper water efficiency measures, enough water could be saved to supply San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, according to a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council. The report finds that commercial, industrial and institutional sectors, which use an estimated 2.5 million acre-feet of water a year in California, need to adopt a variety of measures to reduce their water use.
The Water Use in Buildings report covers involvement levels and growth opportunities over the next five years, as well business benefits, motives and obstacles. The report reveals that owners are committed to water-efficient practices, with 42 percent reporting that more than three-quarters of current projects incorporate water-efficient designs and 50 percent expect to incorporate water-efficient practices in at least half of their building portfolios by 2013.
Business benefits are the key growth drivers including the reduction of energy use (87 percent) and operating costs (84 percent), according to the report. Respondents say that on average, applying water-efficient designs and products lead to 15 percent less water use, 10-11 percent less energy use, and an 11-12 percent reduction in operating costs.
The report also finds that increased government regulation and the desire to lower energy costs are expected to drive faster adoption of water-efficient products and methods. Seventy-three percent of respondents are motivated by energy cost increases, while more than two-thirds expect to respond to regulations on wastewater runoff (69 percent) and water efficiency (68 percent).
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