By Yaron Dycian
Commercial buildings, such as schools, hotels, retail stores, office buildings, and hospitals, are major consumers of water, accounting for approximately 17% of publicly supplied water use in the United States. As in residential settings, though, water is often taken for granted, despite its significant financial and environmental impact. This is why it is critical to plan for water conservation and develop efficient water management solutions in commercial buildings.
Water waste in buildings is a particularly significant issue, with approximately 25% of all water entering buildings going to waste. The reasons are many and varied, from stuck toilets to leaky faucets, outdated equipment and pipes, malfunctioning cooling towers or irrigation systems misconfigurations. To illustrate how quickly water loss can accumulate, a single leaking toilet can waste 100 gallons an hour.
Moreover, water waste has a disproportionate and multiplying effect on sustainability. If water is taken for granted, its carbon footprint is also largely ignored. That footprint, however, is not negligible. Water treatment and delivery are responsible for 13% of the total electricity consumption in the U.S., which in turn generates carbon emissions.
Research finds that every cubic meter of water consumed generates 85 pounds of CO2 for every 1,000 gallons. Water waste means needless and easily avoidable carbon emissions.
Despite its massive financial and environmental impact, water management within buildings has been a neglected topic for years, mostly because it is an invisible one. Most of the water wasted in building construction and operations results from hidden leaks that go undetected, from micro-leakages to pipe bursts behind walls.
But recently there has been more scrutiny from investors and consumers around water and energy efficiency in buildings, and it will have enormous effects on how businesses operate in the years to come. As concerns about sustainability and climate change continue to increase, regulation is also evolving and facility managers will feel the pressure to better manage this issue from all sides.
Effective Water Management
In the past, many facilities professionals had accepted that such loss was simply part of the nature of their business. Some tried to mitigate the risk with simplistic tools such as leak sensors, or through human intervention with in-person visual inspections, but with limited success. Indeed, these familiar but frustrating tools don’t equip teams with the tools they need to properly manage water and monitor waste.
Water waste and its associated emissions, however, can be successfully mitigated through innovative water management systems engineered to identify and prevent waste and protect building owners and operators from the risks associated with water loss and water damage. Innovative applications of artificial intelligence and machine learning are transforming how construction, building operations, and property and facilities management professionals around the world deal with water waste. These new solutions enable companies to mitigate water waste, protect their bottom line and meet sustainability goals proactively.
The right leak detection and analytics solution will support a building’s complete operational lifecycle, from construction to operation. At all stages, the system provides accurate real-time data on water consumption, identifies the location of a leak, and even shuts off the water supply automatically in case the leak has the potential to cause damage.
Powerful water management and analytics solutions for sustainable water management provide intelligent real-time monitoring, helping teams identify leaks at the source, eliminating the risk of water loss, property damage, and interrupted workflows as well as carbon emissions.
Data-powered water management solutions offer a way for companies to proactively respond to urgent climate and economic concerns by optimizing water usage. The powerful results of effective leak detection and water management technology solutions—protecting a rapidly diminishing resource and minimizing carbon emissions—demonstrate that such solutions can be an integral part of a successful sustainability strategy for today’s facilities.
Dycian is chief product and strategy officer for WINT, a company that produces artificial intelligence-powered leak detection and water conservation devices. WINT serves some of the world’s largest organizations including technology, construction and real estate businesses.