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Is Water The New Energy?




In an article in our September technology issue about water rates, benchmarking, and technology for water efficiency, noted water expert Bill Hoffman sounds an alarm: Water rates are rising at two to three times the rate of inflation, he says, quoting a survey by engineering firm Black and Veatch. He explains that water rates will continue to rise rapidly, while energy costs have mostly leveled off.

The article explains why benchmarking, then, is so important. In 2017, water was included for the first time in the Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey and Hoffman provides a helpful chart showing some standard water use benchmarks.

Several tools can be used to benchmark and reduce water use, including LEED. A recent blog post by USGBC, which also points out that 14 percent of the world’s potable water is used in buildings, explains all the credits in LEED v4 targeting water efficiency — everything from landscaping, to cooling tower, to simply metering water use.

As a line item, water still probably isn’t as expensive for most facilities as energy. But it’s quickly catching up, so facility managers would be well-served to be proactive — to do whatever they can now to decrease water use, before water really is the new energy in terms of expense.

This Quick Read was submitted by Greg Zimmerman, executive editor, Building Operating Management. Read his cover story on the how sustainability and resilience complement each other.

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