So, you know that you want to retrofit the fixtures in your building to reduce water use, but aren’t sure where to start? Well look no further.
The first step to reducing water use is to understand how much we are using in the first place – similar to tracking our monthly spending – you can’t reduce it until you measure it! If you haven’t already, please figure out your existing water use which will include the number of building occupants, the types of existing fixtures and the amount of water used by each fixture.
Now that you know how many gallons of water you’re already using, it’s time to figure out next steps to reduce that amount.
- Research low or no flow/flush products. The easiest way to find low flow fixtures is to visit WaterSense. WaterSense is a voluntary program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that develops water efficiency specifications, partners with product manufacturers to create products that meet the specifications and then promotes those products to consumers. They have a comprehensive list of water savings for low-flow and dual flush toilets, low or no flow urinals, aerators for sinks and showerheads.
- Calculate water savings. Water savings can be calculated by determining your baseline water use (remember that calculation you did earlier?) and then comparing the percentage of savings to the low flow products that fit within your budget.
- Specify and install.Working drawings and specifications are the essential working documents used by a contractor to bid and build a project. Standard building specifications are written documents that go with the drawings and describe the materials as well as the installation methods. They also prescribe the quality standard's of construction expected on the project. Not sure what to add to your specifications? Check out CalReycle or Environmental Building News GreenSpec for sample specs.
- Educate users and building occupants. Make an announcement about the retrofit and conduct education and feedback sessions to ensure that everyone knows what's in the works - be it employees, investors, partners or vendors. On an ongoing basis, be sure to have monthly e-mail messages, announcements in newsletters, through your organizations blog, and posted on the wall in common areas. Share all of the benefits of saving water and keep water saving metrics on the table as a success story.
If you can’t afford to retrofit all at once, consider phasing in a number of new fixtures over time. Start with those that will give the greatest water savings for the least amount of money, like low-flow aerators on all the building faucets. The savings potential here is huge and the cost is approximately $3-5 per.