Water consumption and conservation have become front-page news in recent months, and building owners and plumbing engineers are frequently being tasked with doing everything they can to conserve water in commercial buildings. You may have heard the statement, “water is the next energy crisis.” When considering recent events such as the California droughts, water shortages in developing countries, mandatory cuts focused on reducing water use, and efforts to conserve fresh water supplies, it makes you realize that there may just be something to that statement.
An increased stress on available supplies coupled with increased sanctions on water consumption has continued to thrust water toward the top of the list of resources to be conserved. Building owners and managers are increasingly focused on reducing their buildings’ water footprints in an effort to not just meet present and future restrictions, but also to conserve precious water supplies for future generations. The ideas outlined here establish a good starting point for designers, engineers, and anyone involved in the building industry to reduce, conserve, and track water for generations to come.
As we saw with plumbing systems, HVAC systems in certain building types can potentially account for upwards of 30% of the building’s total water consumption. Specialized facilities have the potential to consume significantly more water. Careful consideration and focused selection of HVAC systems can offer significant water savings. Water treatment programs, chemicals used and equipment onsite plays the biggest role.