When you think of saving water, what are the first things that come to mind? Most people think of California and Texas, being that they are in a major water crisis. Saving water or being “water smart” is not often at the top of every businesses’ sustainability initiatives, but it should be.
Water covers approximately 70% of our planets surface, but only less than 1% of that is available for human use. As the world’s population nears 10 billion, environmental scientists expect worldwide shortages of fresh water to be one of the most pressing environmental concerns in the next 50 years. Every business whether it is big or small uses water in different ways-some more than others. But if we take the time and analyze how much water we actually use, and where we use it, we can start tackling the issue. Here are some strategies to get started:
Reduce Landscape Water Use
Lush green lawns can require dozens or hundreds of gallons of water a day to keep it looking good. Consider planting native landscapes or other less water-intensive alternatives like Xeriscape (conservation of water through creative landscaping). Xeriscape not only saves water but it is less maintenance, no fertilizers or pesticides, pollution free, and improves property value. Also, consider installing a rain-harvesting system to collect water on site for landscape irrigation or using a sensored irrigation system to better control water use.
Change to Low-Flow
Think of how many times you use the bathroom at work. On average a person uses the restroom 2-4 times during an 8 hour work shift. Now count how many people work for that company and use the restroom. That is a lot of water being used. So why not outfit all restroom faucets, toilets, break room faucets, or showers with low-flow restrictors. For instance, the standard faucet emits 2.2 gallons per minute while the low-flow faucet aerator emits less than 1.5 gallons per minute. Pre-rinse spray valves-the hoses that restaurants use to rinse dirty dishes-puts out 1.5 gallons per minute compared with 4 gallons per minute using the standard valves.
Invest In Water-Efficient Equipment
There are various types of equipment used by businesses that consume a lot of water but have less-water-intensive alternatives, or are available in water efficient models. They may be higher in upfront costs, but with many cities and towns raising their water rates, they can pay for themselves quickly through water and water-heating energy savings.
Inform and Interact with Employees
Every employee plays a role in the usage of water. So, why not seize the opportunity to get employees involved in the business’s green efforts. The company can establish a green team effort, hold a meeting for energy/water efficiency, or publish articles in a newsletter. These are just a few ways to remind employees to be conscientious of water use and even ask for their own ideas on how to save it.
Now, not all businesses are the same for when it comes to saving water. So, for a list of water efficient strategies by industry, check out Alliance for Water Efficiency’s Resource Library for Commercial, Institutional and Industrial Users.