Manage An Older Office Building? Effective Ways To Cut Down On Water Usage & Prevent Water Damage From Leaks

18 May 2018
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According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), office buildings in the United States account for 9% of the total water used in institutional and commercial buildings. As the manager or owner of an older commercial office building, you have likely noticed a significant increase in the costs of water in recent years. Unfortunately, these costs are expected to continue to rise. 

Additionally, buildings that consume more than 1,000 gallons of water per day must have a water meter installed, according to the Federal Metering Guidance published by the Federal Energy Management Program. If your facility is older and uses a significant amount of water, it is essential to cut back on the water consumption. Here are ways this can be achieved. 

Low-Flo Toilets 

The research provided by the EPA suggests that as much as 37% of the water used in office buildings is from restroom usage. Water usage from restrooms can be reduced by installing toilets with flushometer valves. A single flush in a toilet with a flushometer valve uses no more than 1.28 gallons per flush (gpf) as compared to volumes of 3.0 to 7.0 gpf rate of older toilets. Changes your facilities toilets to ones with flushometer valves can give you a 20% savings based on the minimal federal standard of 1.6 gpf. To determine how much water is currently being flushed in toilets in your restrooms, contact commercial plumber services for measurements. 

While there are no laws specifically stating that you must provide operational toilets in your facility, the safety and comfort of the employees and guests in your facility should be considered. If your facility operates during normal office hours, you can easily schedule the installation of the replacement toilets during the evening and overnight hours. However, if your facility operates around the clock, you may need to schedule the installation of the replacements one restroom or several restrooms at a time, depending on the number of restrooms in your facility and how many toilets there are in each restroom. 

Automatic Leak Detection

Plumbing leaks can occur when there is a burst water pipe, an overflowing toilet, or a leaky valve in a water faucet. A plumbing leak in your facility can potentially lead to hundreds or thousands of gallons of water loss as well a significant amount of costly water damage, particularly if the leak begins and continues after hours. An automatic water leak detection device can determine whether or not there is a leak somewhere within the facility. If a leak is detected, the main water supply to the facility can be automatically shut off by the device. 

When the maintenance staff returns to work, they will notice the water has been shut off and place a call to the commercial plumber. Alternatively, the automatic leak detection device can be connected to your building's security monitoring system. Depending on the needs of your facility, the system can automatically place all necessary phone calls to alert you and/or the commercial plumber of your choice. 

Important note: The key thing to keep in mind if you decide to have an automatic leak detection device installed is that you do not want to shut off the water supply for the water sprinkler system. Therefore, if the facility's water sprinkler system uses a separate network of water piping that branches off after the water main line as it enters the building, you'll need to make sure the automatic shut off valve is placed appropriately so it does not interfere with the water sprinkler system. If, however, your water sprinkler system is in-line with your main plumbing system, it is highly recommended that you install a separate water sprinkler system in order for your facility to remain protected should a water leak be detected.