How a Water Audit Pays Off

Is there a water audit in your future?

Managers of industrial facilities want to conserve water and find ways to use it more efficiently if for no other reason than it is the right thing to do, right? Well, yes, it is the right thing to do, but there is another reason managers of industrial locations should consider ways to reduce water consumption, and that is to save money.

This article is being written in Chicago where water and sewer rates have essentially doubled since 2007 and have yet to plateau. One report indicates they will go up another 14 percent by 2019. So if the average water bill for a homeowner in Chicago (apartments and single-family homes) was about $35 monthly in 2007, they are now looking at $70 per month, which will likely be getting closer to $100 per month fairly soon.

By comparison, for an industrial location using thousands of gallons of water each month, we’re talking about rate increases that could total several thousand more dollars per year. Managers of industrial locations do not have to be victims of these increases, however. They can take action now to help minimize them and possibly even reduce water and sewer costs. It all starts by conducting a water audit.

Water Efficiency or Water Conservation

Before discussing water audits, we need to clarify a few points. First, although the terms are often used interchangeably, “water conservation” and “water efficiency” are not the same. Possibly this will explain the difference:

If your facility was told to cut back water consumption by 25 percent for 12 months due to a drought, that would be water conservation. You are reducing water consumption to address a current water shortage.

If your business was notified to reduce water consumption by 25 percent on a permanent basis, you would need to find ways to use water more efficiently. Water efficiency is long-term conservation.

Another thing we should clarify regards saving money. There is a very close connection between water and energy. Most facilities use quite a bit of water for heating and cooling, both of which require fuel and energy. Reducing consumption here can help lower power bills as well as water and sewer bills.

Conducting a Water Audit

A water audit is designed to identify where water is being used in a facility, where it may be wasted, and where the amount of water used can be reduced.  If this is the first time you have conducted a water audit or created a water audit checklist, the task can be made a lot easier if we focus on certain areas of the facility. According to the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), in a commercial/industrial facility most of the water consumed is in these four areas: *

·         Kitchens and restrooms, 41 percent

·         Cooling/heating, 28 percent

·         Landscaping, 22 percent

·         “Other,” 9 percent (Note: “other” was not defined)

It is typically best to have audits of cooling and heating systems conducted by an expert in that area. They can generate what is called a "water use efficiency report." Landscaping may also require someone specializing in irrigation. Often all that is needed is the installation of water efficient sprinkler heads.

However, conducting a water audit of kitchens and restrooms is something most facilities can easily do in-house, using water audit forms or water audit templates that can be found online,  and as we see, it is where the largest amount of water is typically used.**

Our next step in the water audit is to establish a benchmark. We need to know exactly how much water is being used in the building so we can see if our efforts are proving successful. Even though our focus now is just restrooms and kitchens, our efforts in reducing consumption here will be reflected in future water consumption and water bills.

To establish a benchmark, gather 12 months or more of water utility bills. Our concern now is not costs but the amount of water consumed. Total and then average these amounts to find your monthly usage.**

Next,  the water audit includes taking the following steps:

·         Pay vigorous attention to leaks. According to SFWMD, “leak detection exercises can save a facility tens to hundreds of thousands of gallons of water per year.”

·         Total all toilets in the building and list how much water each is designed to use per flush. Newer toilets are required to use no more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush (GPF). Be aware that as toilets age, they may use more than the amount specified. Kits are available to help reduce the amount of water used by toilets or replace toilets so that they use about 1.25 GPF, a reduction of about 20 to 65 percent in water consumption depending on the toilet.

·         Now collect similar data regarding urinals. Newer urinals are designed to use 1 GPF; however, just like toilets, as the flush handles age, they may use more. Kits to reduce water use in urinals may not be dependable. While some urinals are available that use .5 GPF, due to installation costs, many facilities choose to install waterless urinals. Water consumption is eliminated entirely and waterless urinals tend to be relatively inexpensive to purchase and install compared to a water-using urinal.

·         If your facility has shower areas, make sure inexpensive aerators have been installed in all shower heads.

·         Check that aerators have also been installed in all faucets. A faucet can use more than 2 gallons of water per minute; aerators installed in faucets can reduce this to 0.5 gallons per minute.

·         Retrofitting a commercial kitchen with a new dishwasher can reduce water consumption by as much as 50 percent, depending on the age of the dishwasher. Similarly, and often overlooked, ice makers that are air-cooled use considerably less water than a water-cooled system.

According to SFWMD, by taking these and similar steps, commercial and industrial facilities can significantly improve water efficiency. In fact, they indicate studies have found that water savings can range “from 15 to 50 percent, with 15 to 35 percent being the most typical savings.”

Of course, the actual savings can depend on many variables, such as when the building was constructed and whether water efficiency efforts were designed into the building when constructed. In either case, a water audit should be re-conducted every couple of years to make sure the facility is using water efficiently and if taking steps such as installing waterless urinals are needed..

A frequent speaker and author on water conservation issues, Klaus Reichardt is founder and CEO of Waterless Co. Inc, Vista, CA, makers of waterless urinals and other restroom products. He founded the company in 1991 with the goal to establish a new market segment in the plumbing fixture industry with water conservation in mind. He may be reached at Klaus@waterless.com

* Based on water consumption around the United States, not just Florida. Percentages can vary in an industrial location depending on how water is used.

** Some facilities have “sub-meters” that indicate how much water is used in different areas of the building. If so, isolate just those amounts used in kitchens and restrooms, then total and average the amounts when conducting a water audit.

The Benefits of Water Saving Toilets

Water makes the world go around. Moreover, it is a scarce resource that many people take for granted. If you no longer want to waste water, or you are looking to cut down on the cost of your monthly water bill, then you may want to consider making a few changes in your home. For starters, the restroom is generally the place where water is wasted the most. Visitors leave the water running when washing hands, and there may be outdated toilets that are not equipped as water saving toilets.

Non Flushing Urinals - What They are and How They Work

The world of waterless flushing is not necessarily a new one, but it is a rather recent development in the need to preserve a valuable resource. At Waterless Co., we provide non flushing urinals that are being used by all types of businesses in an effort to be eco-friendly. We understand that this might be your first time hearing the phrase “non flushing urinals”, so let’s go over the basics of what they are, and how they work.

FAQ: Can Waterless Urinals Really Save Water?

The answer is yes.  But before we debate how waterless urinals save water, we’ve got to say the following are guesstimates.  The amount typically quoted is that one waterless urinal can result in 35,000 gallons of water saved per year.

However, the amount of water saved when waterless urinals are installed can vary as a result of several factors, starting with where they are installed.  Are the waterless urinals located in the men’s restroom of a bar or restaurant?  A school or library? An airport or convention center?  A home?

A convention center may only be used half the year so the amount of water consumed by its urinals, even if there are many large men’s restrooms in the facility, may differ considerably from the amount consumed in a busy restaurant/bar frequented seven days a week throughout the year.  So, where waterless urinals are installed¾and how often they are used¾can cause water consumption to vary. 

With that in mind, here are some figures typically used to guestimate how much water is used by a traditional water-using urinal.  We can turn that around to show how waterless urinals save water:

·        In an office with one urinal and 25 male workers, one urinal may use approximately 50,000 gallons of water per year.

·        A restaurant with three urinals and an average of 150 male customers per day will use at least 72,000 gallons of water annually.

·        An educational facility with 10 urinals and 300 male students can use as much as 330,000 gallons of water per school year (approximately 185 days).*

 

So to determine just how much water we might be able to save, let’s create the following scenario.  Let’s assume we have an office building with 10 men’s restrooms and a total of 30 urinals.  Instead of 25 male workers, we have 250 male employees working in this office building every day.  The amount of saved water annually if waterless urinals are installed in this building would be approximately 1,500,000 gallons.

That’s a lot of saved water.  You can easily see why so many facilities, looking either for ways to reduce water consumption and become more water efficient or seeking LEED-certification, consider installing waterless urinals as one of their first steps. Very often, waterless urinals save enough water for the facility to receive credits for water efficiency.

We should also note that when this much water is saved, it can prove to be a real cost savings for a facility.  First there are the costs for the water from the water utility company.  But there are also costs to provide water to the facility and remove it.  These costs have jumped dramatically around the country in the past few years.  And, another cost that is often overlooked is the cost of electricity, required to deliver and remove water. 

These rates are typically worked into the water bill so you probably do not even notice them.  However, the more water that is consumed in your facility, the more electricity is needed to deliver and remove it, which also impacts the size of your water bill. 

So, we have answered your question: do waterless urinals really save water?  The answer is yes, waterless urinals do save water. And we have pointed out something else; because waterless urinals save water, they can help lower operating costs as well.

For more information on how to reduce water consumption, waterless urinals, and use water more efficiently, please contact a Waterless Co representative.

 

*Source: Waterless Urinals: Reducing Water Usage