Gray Water Provides Sustainable Solution to HVAC Needs

June 2, 2005
Gray water discussion planned for ASHRAE’s annual meeting in late June

Having identified ways to reduce the use of drinkable water in cooling applications, the Atlanta-based American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) is planning a forum on the topic during its annual meeting, June 25-29.

Many areas, both nationally and internationally, have experienced periods when drinkable water is in limited supply. Despite this, cooling towers continue to consume large quantities unnecessarily. According to ASHRAE and Mark Hodgson (of Edison, NJ-based Clayton Group Services), drinkable water is used simply because in many facilities, such as office buildings, it is the only available supply.

Gray water, or tertiary treated municipal effluent (better known as sewage), can be used in cooling towers as an alternative. According to a recent media release from ASHRAE, “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified cooling towers as an area where gray water could be substituted for potable water, reducing demand on a limited resource and potentially saving money.” An additional benefit is the points earned from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System™ for water use efficiency.

The issues of water treatment capabilities, necessary alterations to cooling tower designs, and potential health risks will be discussed later this month at the association’s annual meeting. The forum titled What Do You Need to Know About Gray Water Before it can be Used in HVAC Cooling Systems will be held from 10:15 a.m. to 11:05 a.m., Monday, June 27, at the Adam’s Mark Denver. To find out more about the annual meeting, or to register, visit (

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