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Plumbing Upgrade: Locking Down Savings


Maintenance and engineering managers at institutional and commercial facilities plan with sustainability and energy savings priorities in mind. In county government agencies where officials often ask their residents to participate in recycling or other energy-saving program, it is only appropriate that the agency do its part.

"We're stewards of the environment," says Tom Brantley, director of facilities management in Florida's Leon County, which includes the city of Tallahassee. "If we're expecting residents to save money and energy, we have to as well."

Through a series of projects that saved the county thousands of dollars on water bills and preserved millions of gallons of water, the county set an example for its residents that a commitment to water conservation helps the environment and the bottom line.

The plumbing retrofits started in January 2006 and continued through August 2007 and were part of the first phase of an energy services company opportunity that has saved the county almost $475,000 a year since completion. The plumbing retrofits represent 11 percent of the yearly savings total from the ESCO opportunity.

Both retrofits happened at law-enforcement agencies. The largest project took place at the 367,490-square-foot, 1,150-bed jail, where 642 stainless steel china fixtures were outfitted with flow-restrictive electronic valves to reduce the flush from 3.5 gallons per flush (gpf) to 1.6 gpf.

Before the valves were added to the fixtures, inmates could flush toilets and turn on sinks an unlimited amount of times each day. The result for the county meant millions of gallons of wasted water use and a frustrated maintenance staff.

The county experienced a drastic reduction in water use after the jail retrofit. The retrofits reduced water use from 19.7 million gallons per year to 4.5 million, resulting in savings of $59,220 a year on a project that cost the county $694,592.

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