Does it feel like your business is flushing away cash? In many parts of the U.S., the cost of water is on the rise, and the average office worker uses 13 gallons daily, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. There are solutions that can potentially help with this issue. You can track water consumption with the latest software, for example, and install low-flow devices, switch to water dispensers and swap out bottled water for a water cooler. You can also decide to lower your overhead and invest the savings back into your business.
You Can't Manage What You Don't Measure
By recording how much water your office uses from month to month, you can chart usage and compare your business to others in your industry. Start with a clean slate by checking for signs of a leak. Turn off all water, including heating and cooling systems, then record the reading on the water meter. Wait 30 minutes and check again. Any increase indicates a leak in the supply line.
You can track your building's water usage with the EPA's ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager software. This online tool allows you to chart over 100 metrics based on your consumption, cost and operational details. Portfolio Manager also lets you compare your usage to the national average for businesses similar to yours, whether you operate a small medical office or a stadium.
If you want detailed information on exactly where your company's water goes, try installing sub-meters in key areas, such as restrooms, breakrooms and outdoor yards. These small devices display water usage in real time to help you monitor consumption and promote awareness. Plus, the detailed breakdown provides a road map for future renovations or repairs.
Reduce the Flow
Once you know where your company's water goes, brainstorm how your staff can do the same tasks with less water. The bathroom is the largest area of usage, according to the EPA, and accounts for 37 percent of the total water consumption in the average office. Consider replacing restroom toilets with low-flow models, especially if the existing toilets are outdated or in need of repair. Low-flow toilets lower per-flush usage from as high as 4.5 gallons down to 1.6 gallons or less, according to the Southwest Florida Water Management District.
If your budget is tight, try toilet bags or weighted bottles to safely displace water in the tank so that each flush uses less. These products are specially engineered for the task. On tankless toilets, retrofitting with diaphragms and dual handles allows staff to flush upwards to use less water or downwards for more, tailoring consumption to need. On most sinks, you can simply unscrew the aerator and replace it with a low-flow model, rather than replace the whole faucet.
Every Sip Counts
Don't forget about water that doesn't come from the tap. If your office relies on bottled water for drinking, you may gain substantial savings by switching to a [water dispenser] system. A bottleless water cooler is less expensive per gallon and provides chilled water without needing to refrigerate a pitcher. Plus, the office cooler is a place for colleagues to share ideas and interact, giving your business a social perk. You can also install a water filter on the faucet to provide clean, fresh water on demand at even further savings. Both options reduce office waste by doing away with plastic bottles, helping to lower your environmental impact.
Rally your staff to join in your mission for water efficiency by recording your progress. Post the office's monthly water usage for everyone to see so they can feel proud of their improvements, and put up your old consumption figures for comparison. Find a breakdown of the national averages for offices similar to yours and show where your business ranks in order to help you strive for even greater efficiency. If you switch from bottled water to a water dispenser system, tally up the number of bottles that you would have been using to recognize the savings.
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