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Plumbing Upgrades and the Bottom Line

Maintenance and engineering managers have long recognized the benefits of upgrading their plumbing systems — reduced water use, lower energy costs, and decreased maintenance requirements. The problem is that top management in institutional and commercial facilities typically does not see an upgrade the same way. Those making financial decisions on components to replace and new products to specify for the most part make those decisions on the basis of financial impact.

How much will this project cost? How much is it going to reduce operating expenses? Unless managers take the time to communicate the benefits of their retrofit projects to top executives in these terms, chances are they will not receive the funding they need, and the project will fade away.

The key to the successful financing of the retrofit program is the manager's presentation to top executives. The competition for funding in organizations is intense, and plumbing-system retrofits are not glamorous. So for managers to succeed, they must present their proposed retrofits in terms of hard numbers — how much the retrofit will cost and the amount it will save.

Managers should present the data in straightforward way — an itemized list of projects with a short description, the estimated implementation cost for the retrofit project, an estimate of the annual water use under the current systems and practices, an estimate of the annual water used by the retrofitted system, the annual water savings, and the amount of money savings produced.

The presentation also must include a plan that outlines the way the department will implement the program, including the way the manager will specify equipment and components, the person who will be responsible for implementation, and the way the department will monitor the system once installation is complete.

Plumbing-system retrofits designed to reduce water use are an effective way of controlling a facility's water use, reducing operating costs, and improving the public image of a facility.

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