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July 15, 2009 - Contact FacilitiesNet Editorial Staff »
I’m Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today’s topic is water conservation.
While one or two green initiatives might generate some benefits for institutional and commercial facilities, managers most likely will have to institute a series of changes to produce the desired range of results.
Here’s an example: Facility managers looking to save water without bearing the cost of a full plumbing-system upgrade can consider these steps:
• Measure water use for restroom fixtures, and develop a conservation plan. Check for, locate, and fix leaks in faucets, showerheads, and flush valves on toilets and urinals.
• Check for leaks in custodial closet sinks. Water waste might exist where workers store janitorial equipment and supplies and fill cleaning buckets.
• Monitor for potential water losses by replacing worn O-rings and washers before they start to leak.
• Replace older, high-volume, timed-cycle flush valves and high-volume taps with newer, low-flow valves. Make sure that sensor valves respond only to appropriate movements and that solenoids function properly. Inserting restrictors or replacing valves can lock savings into the system.
• Convert to fixtures with copper pipe extensions and a brass coupling nut when upgrading fixtures. Technicians can install these extensions more quickly because they do not require a special wrench to reach up under the back of the sink.
• Check to see if hot-water temperatures at the heaters are set properly. If the temperature is set at 140 degrees, lowering it to 120 degrees can save a great del of electricity.
• Insulate hot-water lines, or move the heater closer to the point of use. This step can minimize heat loss, as well as save water and chemicals.
If the savings related to these and other steps are greater than the cost of plumbing-system upgrades, the result is a win-win situation — a greener facility and lower operating costs.