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Water Reduction Strategies: Know Your Terminology

reicherdt, klaus, waterless coOn May 6, 2014, the New York Times reported that climate change is no longer something that may happen in the future but, according to many scientists, is something that is happening now here in the US.

As to how climate change may impact water, the report paints a rather grim picture. While there may be flooding in some areas, much more than we have noted before, those areas that typically have water shortage will see these shortages grow even more severe. “In the Southwest, the water shortages seen to date are likely to just a foretaste of things to come. Severe and sustained drought will stress water sources forcing increasing competition among farmers, energy producers, urban dwellers, plant and wildlife for our most precious resource,” according to the article

There are many ways we can – and must – address this challenge but the first and most obvious one is very simple: we must start reducing water consumption.

But in order to begin reducing water consumption, building owners/managers must first become familiar with some of the terms used to discuss water usage and shortages. For example, many owners/managers might be surprised to learn that when discussing water reduction strategies, industry experts rarely use the term water conservation. While this terminology is in fact accurate when addressing a short-term drought, the water issues we are and will likely be grappling with are actually long-term problems. For these types of situations, the proper term is water efficiency. Water efficiency typically refers to the planned use of water in a manner that prevents waste, overuse, or misuse. The goal of water efficiency is to “do more with less” without sacrificing comfort or performance.

Other key terms often used when discussing water efficiency include:

Water audits: Water audits are designed to determine exactly where water is being used in a property. All water using fixtures and mechanicals are analyzed. Potential water-saving solutions often materialize quickly during this process. These can be simple fixes such as repairing leaks or more complex upgrades, such as the installation of devices and fixtures that reduce water consumption over the long term

Xeriscaping: Water used for landscaping purposes can amount to 20 percent or more of a facility’s overall water consumption. Xeriscaping refers to the use of native vegetation, which typically allows landscaping to thrive with minimal additional water significantly reducing water usage. It also involves reducing the overall amount of vegetation planted and ensuring that water-efficient irrigation systems, such as low-flow sprinkler heads, are installed. Implementing these tactics can not only save water, but also reduce related water and landscaping maintenance costs.

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