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Maximizing Water Efficiency

waterUpgrading old fixtures and altering occupant behavior are two key strategies to improve building water efficiency, reports FacilitiesNet.com.

Depending on their age, older faucets, toilets and urinals could be using 70 to 80 percent more water than newer equivalents. Newer toilets offer the greatest savings: older models typically use between 3.5 and 5 gallons of water per flush compared to between 1.28 and 1.6 gallons per flush for newer models, the website reports.

Urinals have similar efficiency improvements with newer models using less than a gallon per flush compared to 2 to 3 gallons per flush for newer models. The other option is waterless urinals. While eradication water use these models do require more maintenance.

Electronic faucets, which regulate when the faucet is on and off using sensors, rather than allowing the user to simply leave the tap running, along with aerators, which mix air with the water to maintain pressure while using less liquid, are other options.

Unlike HVAC, where building operators typically have a much greater influence on energy use that occupants, water use is largely in the hands of occupants, meaning that changing occupant behavior is a vital component in controlling water use.

As such, changing occupants’ water wasting habits is key. Testing new fixtures such as dual-flush toilets in one area and then gauging user feedback to find out if users are actually using the half-flush option, for example, is one way of discerning whether occupant habits will change with new fixtures. On other occasions, simple engagement with users through signs or memos explaining how to limit water use could work.

Water saving measures are often easily implemented and can save thousands of dollars a year but are often overlooked, according to a Buildings magazine article published last month.

The “low-hanging fruit” of water saving methods are often ignored in favor of high-efficiency HVAC systems or new lighting, but their payback periods are often under a year, the magazine says. The publication has highlighted three case studies where water savings have garnered large monetary savings.

Picture Credit: Water saving via Shutterstock

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