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This peer-to-peer networking session will cover best practices for working with young facility professionals
Just as important as product specification and metering technology is the challenge of keeping building occupants involved in water-conservation efforts through education and frequent reminders that they are an important part of the solution.
Public relations are essential for a successful water-conservation strategy. Curtailing consumption not only saves a precious resource. It also saves money. For facilities, this means more money available for continuous upgrades and profits. Among the proven communication tactics designed to build buy-in among employees and other occupants are these:
• Set up and distribute a water-conservation policy that encourages continuous improvement.
• Tell occupants about the importance and benefits of water conservation.
• Use internal communications, such as water-conservation pamphlets, to spread the word.
• Install suggestion boxes, specifically for water conservation, in high-traffic areas. Encourage occupants to make suggestions and report water waste.
• Install signs encouraging water conservation in restrooms, kitchens, laundries, and include information on the impact of leaks with data on gallons per year and related costs.
• Assign a maintenance technician, employee, or volunteers to evaluate water-conservation opportunities and effectiveness and submit improvement ideas.
• Assign a water-conservation subject-matter expert who is familiar with building codes and water saving techniques to champion the cause in each department, area, or building by consolidating and reporting successes.
• Share successes regularly with other departments by consolidating and sharing reports throughout the organization.
• Audit the water-conservation program annually to find and apply improvements.
Telling the story of the cost of water can make a compelling argument for water conservation. The cost of water equals the utility rate multiplied by the volume consumed by a facility. This rate increases regularly at a fairly substantial pace in many communities, and communities pay for the increase twice — both for the water used and for volume of used water and waste discharged into the sewer.
Many water districts are raising water rates 10 percent a year to pay for upgrades of aging infrastructures, as well as for operating cost increases. In cases where a utility skips several yearly increases, communities have seen a 100 percent increase to compensate. While the consumer cannot control the rate increases, the consumer and manager can have a say in controlling of the volume. Managers need to convey this message to build buy-in for water conservation.
Thomas A. Westerkamp is a maintenance and engineering management consultant and president of the work management division of Westerkamp Group LLC.
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Public Relations Plays Role in Water Conservation