How To Determine How Water Is Used, and How Water Is Being Wasted
What is the best way for a facility manager to understand how water is consumed at their facility? How can a facility manager determine what might be necessary uses and where water is being wasted, for example through inefficiency or leaks?
The first step in understanding how water is being consumed is to review the water utility information for the facility. This will allow the facility manager to see how much water is being used in total at the facility and will also indicate how water use fluctuates throughout the year due to seasonal water demands such as landscape irrigation and building cooling. Monitoring water utility bills can also help a facility manager identify abnormalities in water use which could be an indication of a leak or some other type of water wastage.
The EPA WaterSense program is also a great resource for better understanding where water is used and where it can be saved in a wide range of commercial buildings. WaterSense at Work is a great resource that provides a summary of best management practices to improve a facility's water use performance and realize the associated cost savings.
After getting a better handle on overall water use for the facility, the facility manager can conduct a water assessment of the facility to build a bottom-up inventory of water uses to more clearly understand where water savings could be realized. The City of Boulder Colorado is currently coordinating a pilot study to develop a Commercial, Industrial, Institutional (CII) Water Assessment Tool that can be used by facility mangers to assess their water use. Anyone interested in participating in this pilot program can contact the project team at the link above, otherwise, a final version of the tool will be made available for general use later this year.
Answers provided by Becky Fedak, PE, Engineer, with Brendle Group, a sustainability consulting firm based in Fort Collins, Colorado.