Editor's Letter

Oct. 20, 2016

Your Facility's Energy-Water Nexus.

Because your facility’s energy bill is probably much larger than its water bill, your cost-cutting priorities probably target energy much more than water. But as was pointed out at last month’s GreenBuild conference, energy and water are interdependent priorities for your facility’s efficiency goals.

WaterBuild, a summit on water solutions for buildings and infrastructure, debuted at GreenBuild this year and it will return as part of the conference in 2017 and 2018. Michael Webber of the Webber Energy Group delivered a keynote address that described a big-picture approach to energy and water. Large quantities of energy are necessary to move, purify, heat and pressurize water; large quantities of water are necessary to generate electricity, extract primary energy and refine fuels. Insufficient quantities of either inhibit the other.  

EPA reports that the costs of water and wastewater treatment have been rising at a rate well above the consumer price index. The looming expense of replacing the nation’s aging water supply systems will only put more pressure on those costs. However, reducing water consumption reduces both water and energy costs because every gallon of water has an energy footprint. As much as 20% of a building’s energy consumption can involve heating and moving water.  

If you are looking for resources on water conservation, the most comprehensive I know are at EPA’s WaterSense at epa.gov/watersense. One portion of the website is devoted to commercial initiatives by building type (office, hotel, healthcare, etc.). It has specific tools for creating an action plan to reduce water losses, increase efficiency of fixtures and equipment, educate employees and occupants, and reuse onsite water.

That planning framework should sound like the one you used to develop your energy management plan (you do have one, right?) because your strategies for energy and water conservation should be parts of the same plan. Recognizing their interdependence will help you with your key priority – reducing facility costs.

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