Ask An Expert: Water Efficiency
Part 1: The Best Way To Reduce Water Use In High-Rise Buildings
The Best Way To Reduce Water Use In High-Rise Buildings
May 2012 - Green
What is the best way, besides restroom retrofits, to reduce water in a high-rise building?
The best way to reduce water use in a high-rise building will vary on the building use, location and systems in place, but here’s a few ideas. Behavior is the least expensive, most productive way to reduce water use in a building. To affect behavior, form green teams to collect and implement water reducing ideas such as developing and managing a leak detection and reward system such as “Spring for Leaks”, where actual monetary rewards are given for reporting leaks. Another behavior idea is to create competition within the building — add meters to each floor, track use and publish the results monthly. Even if a competition is unfeasible, it’s amazing how effective simple feedback is all on its own.
Depending upon the building’s location and cooling system, condensate collection and re-use can be a viable option for using "free" water collected from the cooling system condensate dripping off of the cooling coils. For some structures, landscaping can use a tremendous amount of water creating opportunities to supply these areas with a rainwater collection system. Better yet, simply rip it out and replace with indigenous species. Rainwater collection may also prove valuable for on-site car washes. Easiest yet, find or hire a water auditor every two to three years to walk through your building and look for ways to save water use. Water auditors are adept in finding rebates, products that work and ideas offering reasonable paybacks and minimal maintenance.
Answers provided by Troy Aichele, LEED AP, principal, Aichele & Associates, LLC