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Water-saving technology for commercial buildings helps mitigate drought disasters

When it comes to weather and natural disasters, droughts don’t particularly come to mind. This may be because droughts are not as visually devastating as hurricanes that cut through communities relentlessly, such as the recent Hurricane Fiona that devastated parts of Puerto Rico and Hurricane Ian that hit Florida. But drought is damaging communities and buildings more than you might think. After hurricanes, droughts are the deadliest weather-related disasters in the United States. It’s also difficult to prepare for, because unlike other natural disasters, it’s much harder to predict when a drought will start or end.

Believe it or not, the drought can Cause physical damage to commercial buildings. When drought occurs, the soil lacks moisture and the building perimeter shrinks. This can lead to uneven settling and damage to the foundations of buildings that are not initially apparent. Ultimately, the foundation may show signs of cracking, and if there were any compromises in the foundation of the building, it could result in damaged pipes, slanted floors, warped windows, and more.

Physical damage to buildings isn’t the only thing that drought can do to commercial property owners. Ross Sheil, his SVP Global Revenue at Infogrid, said: Smart building software developer.

News about drought was all over the headlines last summer. The number of states experiencing moderate or severe drought during the summer varied from 40 to 42. Extreme heat and lack of rainfall have left states such as Texas, Arizona and California experiencing the worst drought conditions. California is experiencing the worst drought in 1,200 years, with nearly three-quarters of the state experiencing severe or extreme drought. Scientists say climate change is likely to exacerbate droughts in the coming years. Warmer temperatures increase evaporation, which reduces surface water, dries out soils and vegetation, and creates periods of low precipitation.

Commercial facilities equipped with technologies that reduce water use and waste can help protect against these drought conditions. One of the effects of drought is the availability and quality of drinking water. Reduced flow in streams and rivers increases the concentration of pollutants in water, causing water stagnation and creating breeding grounds for mosquitoes and West Nile virus. , you will have to deal with such consequences. Such outcomes may not directly affect real estate, but they can certainly affect the quality of life in the area.

Percent Area of ​​US Drought Monitor Categories Since 2000

sauce: Drought Regions of the United States – Drought in the United States – Wikipedia

Forty percent of the 48 states in the continental United States have received drought warnings not just this summer, but over the past 100 weeks. So this means going back to September 2020. A major drought on the West Coast could last another eight years. To make matters worse, some of the most drought-affected states in the United States are projected to exhibit the strongest population growth rates in the United States. For example, according to the University of Virginia Weldon His Cooper Center for Public Service research, Arizona’s population is projected to grow 26.1% between her 2020 and her 2040. Arizona residents are also experiencing historic drought as six of her cities in the state officially declared water shortages in the summer. If property owners have not yet been hit by drought, commercial properties are likely to be more affected by drought in the future.

Conserving water is essential in drought-stricken areas and is even required by state and local governments. Commercial properties can play a big role in conserving water, as many properties are water intensive. A typical federal building with 200 employees uses 3,000 gallons of water per day. This equates to approximately 800,000 gallons per year. Commercial buildings have a similar spectrum of consumption, covering everything from sinks, toilets, outdoor irrigation, drainage, cleaning and even heating and cooling in some cases.

To provide safe and reliable water, facilities management teams must understand and effectively manage a building’s water consumption. The risk of water-borne diseases such as Legionnaires’ disease should be reduced by keeping water within safe temperature ranges. Water must be moved to avoid stagnation, and safety measures typically include regular flushing of drains and temperature checks by maintenance staff. Historically, all of these operations were done by hand and used thousands of gallons of water.

In addition to routine water supply security, water is wasted in commercial buildings through other means as well. Surprisingly, according to the EPA, more than 6% of his water usage in the average commercial building is due to leaks. Leaks and constant running water aren’t always visible, but they can quickly result in high utility bills and waste. Inefficient outdoor irrigation is also a big waste of water. In a typical commercial facility, exterior landscaping accounts for approximately 20% of potable water consumption. Toilets also consume more water than any other area in a building, estimated at around 37%. A single leaky faucet can waste over 3,000 gallons of water per year, and most buildings have many leaky faucets.

Many commercial establishments may still be living in the “dark ages” when it comes to saving water. This is because building managers do not have the data to know how much water they are consuming and wasting. Without that data, it’s difficult to know where to start and how to best use technology to optimize water savings and energy savings. The use of Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and artificial intelligence can help some property owners better handle water consumption.

One example is a plumbing monitoring solution for large buildings with miles of water plumbing. Building owners can remotely monitor temperature and water flow via sensors to identify where water may be stagnant and creating legionella conditions. Traditional manual solutions for pipe monitoring required flushing all outlets and taps for a few minutes every week. By using her IoT sensors for pipe monitoring, only 2% of faucets require manual flushing, and preventive line flushing saves wasted water. It also reduces the need for engineers to make regular visits to construction sites, saving labor and transportation costs.

Another way technology can help is leak detection. Sensors and AI-powered software quickly alert you when drips or puddles are detected. This saves buildings thousands of gallons of water per year. While this is a water-saving measure, it also helps prevent damage to the interior of buildings from water accumulation that can lead to dangerous mold conditions.

On-site water reuse is another technology gaining momentum in commercial real estate. The technology was developed by Aaron Tartakovsky and his father, Igor, as part of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Reinvent the Toilet Challenge” competition. This contest probably elicited a lot of jokes, but also some great ideas. Water reclamation technology collects and treats building wastewater to produce recycled water for non-potable uses such as toilet flushing, waste heat energy recovery, and recycled organic solids for natural soil treatment.

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Tartakovsky’s company, Epic Cleantec, installed an on-site water reclamation system at the NEMA building, a 754-unit apartment complex in downtown San Francisco. Related’s newly opened Fifteen Fifty in San Francisco, a 1.2 million square foot luxury residential development, also has an operational greywater reclamation system. Epic Cleantec has partnered with other leading developers in the United States and plans installations in multiple states, including his 1.3 million square foot Park Habitat commercial project in San Jose. Park Habitat’s system is expected to produce 30,000 gallons of highly purified recycled water daily to irrigate 20 stories of plants and divert tens of thousands of pounds of wastewater organic matter from landfills.

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A new, rarer reality

Technologies such as on-site water reuse systems can significantly reduce water usage, but some property owners struggle to justify the costs. In especially drought-hit areas like California, office owners say they lack options to reduce water use without making significant investments, given high vacancy rates. says. While some owners may be in the “dark ages” when it comes to conserving water, the severity of California’s drought means many office owners have already implemented cutting-edge conservation techniques, It is sometimes mandated by state and local governments.

In addition to government mandates, real estate companies have set their own goals when it comes to water conservation. Kilroy Realty is close to reaching its goal of reducing water consumption by 20% compared to his 2015 baseline. The company’s water usage is down 17% by 2021, but shaving off the remaining percentage points is a huge undertaking. The company is looking at his HVAC systems for additional water savings, some of which use water cooling towers.

Kilroy has already adopted strategies such as collecting water for watering plants and flushing toilets. The company is also looking at where landscaping can be replaced with drought-tolerant plants and whether pressure washing of certain exteriors, roofs and windows can be reduced. At a time when office landlords need to make an especially good impression in a challenging office market, less cleaning and landscaping can make a difference to the look of a building. Finding a balance between aesthetics and water conservation has become difficult for some facilities in California and other drought-stricken areas.

Water reuse systems can save a lot of water, but they are a costly improvement and some landlords fear they won’t get an immediate return on their investment.The office market remains in turmoil. Due to the state, there is little guarantee that tenants will move into buildings with improved sustainability, such as improved water conservation. On the other hand, if landlords are willing to risk their investment, water conservation public relations can help attract tenants.

Buildings with high sustainability scores are in high demand as part of a flight to office quality, so landlords are turning to signage to inform tenants and potential tenants about water-saving measures. This is especially important for large properties with very high landscaping needs. While most tenants and employees think about energy savings and carbon footprint when it comes to building sustainability, property owners can also remind them how important water conservation is. Especially in drought-affected areas, you will often hear messages about saving water.

Technologies such as AI-powered leak detection and on-site water reclamation systems will become more important for commercial real estate in the future. Drought conditions across the country are projected to worsen in the coming years, making water scarcity a growing concern, especially in the driest western and southwestern states. Commercial buildings consume a lot of water, but there are some options that can help.

Adding water-saving measures to commercial buildings can make them less susceptible to fluctuations in water supply during times of water shortage, making them more competitive in attracting and retaining tenants. In many parts of the United States, water scarcity is no longer a hypothesis and building owners must adapt to this new reality. Hurricanes may be the most terrifying weather-related disaster, but droughts can be just as dangerous and costly.