Sometimes it’s easy being green. Case in point: water efficient fixtures.
We all know that water’s a precious resource. Our supply of fresh water is dwindling, but our demand is rising. The U.S. uses more than 400 billion gallons of it a day; building operations represent 12% of that.
But low flow water fixtures make it an easy choice to do something about that – especially since they can significantly lower water costs. That’s an even bigger bonus when you consider water bills are on the rise. Want to capitalize on these green but cash-saving investments? Here’s a rundown:
Faucets: A standard faucet goes through 2.2 gallons of water a minute, but a low flow version use 1.5 – or less. If you don’t want to replace fixtures, it’s also possible to add a low-flow aerator to generate a similar effect. There’s also the option, particularly in office/retail/restaurant space, to install faucets with motion sensors or timers, further limiting the amount of water wasted.
Shower heads: The average shower uses 16 gallons of water, and that means Americans go through a staggering trillion gallons of it every year to keep clean. Most standard shower heads use 2.5 gallons a minute, and low flow options lessen than to 2, or lower. Low flow shower heads don’t have to mean a low-pressure shower: today’s models can offer conservation and a good stream.
Toilets and urinals: Toilet flushing is a large contributor to a water bill: consider the average American flushes five times a day! Toilet technology has come a long, long way. Some pre-1980s models used 5 to 7 gallons per flush, but federal law now mandates that toilets must use a maximum of 1.28, with low flow options using less. Keep in mind that manufacturers keep it above 1 gallon per flush to ensure proper flow through plumbing. And big buildings mean big savings: consider that a 10-storey office building with 1,000 occupants would save 1.2 million gallons of water and $10,000 a year by switching out old toilet models to energy efficient ones.
On the urinal side, traditional models may use up to 3 to 5 gallons of water per flush. Low flow models are now available that use just 0.5, even 0.25 gallons per flush.
Drinking fountains: Providing occupants a drinking fountain – or water bottle filling station – is a green move in itself, breaking the commercial bottled water habit. A green model – one that includes auto shut-off, high efficiency chillers and low-flow spouts – makes that option even better.
Irrigation systems: Keep grass and landscaping looking sharp – without wasting excess water with a green irrigation system. A feature as simple as a rainfall sensor can prevent excess watering – and waste – when it’s not needed. Low flow sprinkler heads, especially coupled with a timer that waters in the early morning to mitigate evaporation caused by the midday sun, are sure-fire methods to drive water savings.
There are many water efficient fixtures on the market today. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency makes choosing them a bit easier through its WaterSense program. Products – both residential and commercial – carry a WaterSense label if the product is proven to use 20% less water than traditional models. Visit WaterSense for more details, specialized information for commercial buildings, and a portal to search for products.