With intensified droughts and a growing population, the demand for water has never been greater. The problems are overwhelming, but the solutions don’t have to be. Engineers now are more creative than ever about how to reduce and reuse water. Discover 5 water saving techniques being used today, and boost your water management plan!
Greywater refers to gently used wastewater that is reused for anything other than drinking, cooking, or cleaning. Many commercial buildings collect and treat greywater on-site to save on the costs of freshwater as well as the costs of wastewater disposal.
The most common uses of greywater include irrigating outdoor landscaping or flushing toilets. Greywater is especially important for water scarce areas, since it provides a dependable, drought-proof source of H2O. Check your local laws for guidance on how to set up greywater for your building.
The Sidwell Friends School, alma mater of Malia Obama, has an impressive greywater system. The school was renovated in 2006 and reached LEED’s highest certification level: platinum. One of their upgrades was building a wetland on-site. The wastewater from the building runs through the wetland plant roots, filtering out any unwanted chemical or pollutants. The water is then reused for toilet flushing, allowing the facility to use 93% less water.
Water reuse can develop from even more surprising sources. Air conditioning consumes a lot of water, but it also produces water through condensation in the process. The water produced by condensation is called condensate water, and is usually very clean. In a traditional system this water is wasted when mixed with sewage disposal. Proactive building engineers, however, are redirecting this water to be reused, saving millions of gallons per year for large commercial buildings.
DC Urban Greens is a city food producer that utilizes condensate recapture to feed communities in DC’s Wards 7+8. Their first farm site is irrigated by a neighboring ice rink’s cooling unit. The condensate water produced by the unit once washed down the drain, but now it is piped into the farm’s sprinkling system, reducing their water costs.
EPA’s WaterSense program can help you select the most water efficient products for your property. For products to hold the WaterSense certification, they must be 20% more water efficient than the average product in their category. WaterSense labels are used on sinks faucets, showerheads, toilets, and more.
Lawns require a significant amount of water and money to maintain. In addition to indoor fixtures, WaterSense also labels outdoor irrigation technology. Smart irrigation controllers can track factors like temperature or precipitation to avoid over watering your property’s plants and landscaping.
Save even more by trading out your spray sprinklers for drip irrigation, which can be buried under your lawn. This delivers water directly to where the plants will absorb it, improving efficiency.
Using native plants, or plants indigenous to your location, greatly reduces your outdoor water consumption. Since native plants are already adapted to your climate, they require less water to thrive. Other services native plant provide include lower maintenance costs: while a lawn must be mowed often, a native plant garden is self-sufficient once fully established.
The University of Southern California utilizes drought-tolerant landscaping in a big way. Their facilities team has minimized irrigation costs with native plant use, smart irrigation that adjusts to the weather, and real-time alerts so that leaks can be addressed quickly.
Countless commercial sites are becoming more creative with their water management. The first step to managing your water is measuring how your building is consuming it. When analyzing what changes can be made, remember these 5 water saving techniques.