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.
I’m Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, water conservation and plumbing.
With demands to cut water use growing, maintenance and engineering managers might wonder which areas of facilities to focus on first. Institutional and commercial facilities use vast amounts of water in an array of systems, many of which are inefficient at best, and obsolete at worst.
Using a strategic approach to water management, managers can align facility performance goals and implementation to improve overall water efficiency.
Before performing a plumbing retrofit with the latest water-efficiency technologies, managers need to understand the way a facility performs in terms of water efficiency. The first step in this effort is to establish a baseline for water use, based on current utility bills.
Compile the last five years worth of utility bills, and document water use for each month in a format that enables a comparison from year to year. Set the first year as the baseline. If the facility has implemented water-efficiency measures in the last five years, compare current use against this baseline to measure the facility's improvement.
The next step is to identify all components and systems that use water. This includes documenting restroom plumbing fixtures, as well as major systems considered process loads, such as cooling towers and commercial kitchens.
Sub-meters can help managers quantify the amount of water each system consumes. By installing sub-meters, managers can quantify consumption and specifically target conservation measures.
A good way to start implementing retrofits, especially those dealing with high-efficiency fixtures, is to install these fixtures only in a few restrooms. This tactic will allow managers to see the way occupants and staff react to these changes. It also allows managers to test the product before committing finances to implementing the measure building-wide.