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Water Scarcity

AT&T, EDF Toolkit Promises 28bn Gallons in Commercial Building Water Savings

Water ScarcityUS commercial buildings can collectively save up to 28 billion gallons of water annually by using a suit of tools produced by AT&T and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the organizations say.

For example, buildings with cooling towers typically use 28 percent of their daily water for cooling. AT&T and EDF say the toolkit can help these building reduce that water demand by 14 percent to 40 percent.

The Building Water Efficiency toolkit is the result of data and lessons from pilot projects that ran across the US during the summer and fall of 2012. It gives organizations simple, cost-effective resources to build their own water efficiency programs and includes both technical and management tools to design, implement and document water savings. The combination of tools can be used to create the business case for investments in efficient water management, AT&T and EDF say.

For its own operations, AT&T says it identified water savings opportunities of 14 percent to 40 percent per pilot facility and did so in a way that also made business sense. One cooling tower filtration system upgrade cost less than $100,000 to install but AT&T expects it to produce more than $60,000 in annual water and sewer savings, paying for itself in less than two years.

Another minor $4,000 equipment upgrade to expand free air cooling will result in about $40,000 in annual savings, the company says.

Through free air cooling and optimized cooling towers deployed company-wide, AT&T aims to reduce its approximately 1 billion gallon annual cooling tower water use by 150 million gallons per year by 2015. Cooling tower water use accounts for approximately 30 percent of AT&T’s 3.3 billion gallons of annual water use, the company says.

As drought conditions continue across many areas of the country, the took kit — and reducing a company’s “aqua-print” — can help the environment and bottom line, AT&T says. John Schinter, AT&T executive director of energy, says 31 of the company’s top water consuming facilities are in water-stressed regions. Schinter says the equipment upgrades helped AT&T manage risk from water scarcity and increasing water costs.

Thirty-nine percent of water executives say demand is “highly likely” to outstrip water supply by 2030, while 54 percent say such a risk is moderately likely, according to research released last October by Oracle Utilities.

 

 

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