Fall is upon us, which means that you can worry a little less about cooling your buildings, and focus on other ways to decrease utility costs and improve efficiency. Take a look at your water bills for this past summer. If you think it’s time to become more water efficient, you may be right!
Why is it important to improve water efficiency?
If you’re a facilities manager, it’s no surprise to you that while water is not the most expensive resource, it does become costly when used in large quantities. You’ve probably thought about improving water efficiency in your buildings, but the cost of doing so just doesn’t seem to reap the benefits in the short-term. So why should you make the change to become more water efficient?
- Water rates are increasing as this resource becomes scarcer, which means your bill will only become more expensive each month. For example, in 2006, the median water rate was $19.94, and last year the median water rate was $34.61. That’s a 73% increase in the last 10 years!
- Water is one of our most valuable resources. There are 663 million people in the world who are currently living without access to safe water. It’s everyone’s responsibility to reduce unnecessary use as much as possible.
- Most importantly, it’s easier to accomplish than you think!
How do you improve water efficiency?
Most of the time, just monitoring your water use will help you figure out ways to decrease the amount your facilities use. Start by comparing your water bills each month – have they increased, decreased, or remained constant? If they are increasing gradually or are inconsistent, you may want to check for leaks. Reviewing your bills and performing inspections on a regular basis can save you an arm and a leg in the long run!
- Look at all restroom fixtures! Did you know that restrooms account for upwards of 45% of water consumption in schools and about 30% of water consumption in restaurants? Toilets are the biggest culprit the majority of the time. A worn flapper can cause a toilet to continuously run, which will cost you big bucks down the line!
- Inspect your cooling tower for leaks or other issues and install flow meters. By doing this, you can track the amount of water being used versus water that is lost through evaporation and leaks.
- Walk around the entirety of your facilities to check for wet spots or cracked pavement. Both of these can be signs of underground leaks.
- Check the programming on any toilets, faucets or urinals that use automatic sensors. A lot of these sensors will double flush or flush by accident if tripped too easily.
How FMX can help: With FMX, you have the ability to create step-by-step instruction sets and associate them with preventative maintenance tasks, like the inspections above. Staff and vendors must check off each step in order to complete a task. You can also set up notifications that will automatically alert you and your staff about upcoming inspections. You can capture information from these inspections through the use of custom fields and attachments, and can easily search for and pull up past inspection results.
How to know when to replace equipment
Sometimes, your high water consumption and, consequently, your high water bills can be a little more difficult to fix than simply replacing a faulty toilet flapper or routinely performing inspections. Sometimes faucets, toilets and water tanks just become old. Instead of waiting for these to break down and possibly cause damage, it’s best to take a proactive approach. It’ll be costly in the beginning, but if you do it efficiently, purchasing new equipment will be worth it in the long run!
- Faucets: There are faucets that reduce the water flow in a sink by 30% (from 2.2 gallons per minute to 1.5 gallons per minute). Imagine how much money you would save if occupants weren’t able to turn the faucet on full blast!
- Toilets: While toilets may not seem very glamorous, investing in ones that will save you water and money in the long run may be one of the best decisions you can make!
- Pre-rinse spray valves for dishwashing: If you manage a facility that requires dishwashing, have you thought about how much water is used during this daily procedure? It’s more than you think! Pre-rinse spray valves remove food waste from dishes before dishwashing, which means less water is used when cleaning the dishes.
For more information on purchasing water efficient equipment, visit WaterSense’s website.
How FMX can help: With FMX, it’s easy to measure how successful your improvements have been! You can use FMX to track the labor, equipment, and inventory costs of upgrading the equipment in your facilities and see how it compares to your water cost savings.
Getting occupants involved
In addition to making sure equipment is monitored, inspected, and improved, it’s important to inform occupants about your water efficiency efforts. The more conscientious they are of their water consumption, the more likely they are to decrease it.
So how exactly do you convince Josh from HR to control his water use? First you need to educate him on your efforts. Let occupants know about your routine inspections and decision to increase water efficiency in your facilities. Informing them of these choices will create a culture that accepts the new improvements and encourages everyone to partake in its success. Feel free to hang signs that remind everyone not to use excess water when washing their hands, and to report a leak or faulty bathroom fixture. This will allow you to fix issues before they become too serious.
Alayna is the marketing communications specialist at Facilities Management eXpress. When she’s not drafting up content for the blog or social media, she is most likely reading a good book or taking short weekend trips!