By Chris Matt, Managing Editor - Print & E-Media
Before Johnston and his team began installing the flow-control valves and higher-efficiency toilets, the hospital wanted to get a clearer picture of its water use. A consultant came on board to conduct a water audit.
"When we did the water audit, I walked around with them to the different areas," Johnston says. "We checked the showers, we checked the sinks, and we looked at the toilets and the type of flush kits we had in there. We said, 'Hey, we can go with a smaller one (that uses less water per flush). We thought we were going to have to change out the toilets, but we went to the 1.8 (gpf), and it was perfect."
The consultant conducted a survey that analyzed such items as the number of gallons a faucet running for three minutes consumes. After assessing water use, the consultant outlined the amount of water and money the hospital could save if it installed the flow-control valves and other water-efficiency devices.
"It was an eye opener," Johnston says. "When you look at it, you really use a lot of water. You're in there for one minute washing your hands, and now you've got 300 sinks (to consider)."
The retrofits at Pomerado Hospital can provide a roadmap for future water-conservation projects in existing buildings that Hamilton and her team might plan. Hamilton reports to the system's director of facilities, and even though some of her responsibilities do not fall under the umbrella of the facilities department, she is well aware of all projects as they relate to sustainability.
"I sit in the facilities department, and I report to the director of facilities for the health system, even though a lot of the work I do isn't under facilities," she says. "I've used those people who know those buildings to use their expertise. When we're doing (water) audits in the building, I include them and get their feedback.
"Some of the technologies that we have tested in the past have not worked for this reason or that reason. We need to understand the limitations of the buildings, especially the older buildings. My strategy is to engage them throughout the entire process."