Reduce your utility footprint with a water efficiency management plan

When building owners try to improve their costs of operation, electricity consumption is the biggest target for reduction — but water is a utility that cannot be ignored. Buildings, and surrounding landscapes, use approximately 12 percent of the water consumed on a daily basis — and water is an excellent source of utility cost savings. A water efficiency management plan (WEMP) is a great tool to accomplish water-reduction goals. While there is not a mandated requirement for a WEMP in the U.S., there are some countries, such as Singapore and Australia, where they are required.

The WEMP’s primary goal is for the customer to understand where the water is used in the building, such as pools, fountains and kitchens. This is done by evaluating the historical data of use as well as investigating the water-use practices on-site. It should also include a check of the water meter’s accuracy, if the building is submetered. The result of the analysis is a plan that will identify potential improvements to reduce water consumption. A discussion between Hanson and the owner to force-rank order the improvements in the report would consider payback, affect on occupants, code issues, facility safety and other key performance indicators identified by the owner.

Leaking valves, inaccurate meters and even less-than-optimal procedures are a few examples of issues that were discovered and led to improvement measures. In one situation, a water feature had a leak of its pool to the ground. The metered data showed a slight increase in use each month over time, indicating that the leak was growing. However, when comparing that metered data with other water features on the site, it was clear that this was using too much. A site investigation revealed the source of the leak. Another common observation is employee practices in commercial kitchens that are not water friendly. One project had an automatic dishwasher that operated regardless of dishes being present. A quick adjustment that turned off the machine at low times saved water and electricity.

For more information, contact Wade Conlan at