Commercial Buildings

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) The initials do not mention water, however


Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)

The idea of a commercial facility manager figuring out how to conserve water in his/her building from scratch would be overwhelming for a manager with no exposure to water conservation technologies. Even though the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program refers to energy and the environment in its acronym, and does not specifically mention water, the connection of water to both energy and environment is undeniable.

LEED awards points for sustainable practices and if you are awarded enough points by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) then your building is certified as LEED compliant. The level of certification is dependent on how many points are awarded.

In addition to energy measures LEED points are awarded for deploying water efficient measures.

Water Measures with LEED

Office Buildings, including high-rises and office complexes, account for 12 to 14 % of our total water use. The LEED certification program awards credits for the following:

1) Outdoor Water

Drop irrigation which is applies water in smaller portions closer to the root of the plant to maximize efficiency and grey water where untreated wastewater which has not come into contact with toilet waste (Example: Bathtubs, showers, bathroom, laundry machines) can be used in non-potable applications such as watering scrubs and flushing toilets.

2)  Indoor Water

The four primary uses of indoor water use include toilets, urinals, faucets and shower heads. Fixtures designed for low-flow can result in water savings. The water use and savings are determined by the number of people and types of fixtures. The numbers of fixtures are not needed since LEED bases its numbers on full-time equivalents (FTE) based on a person using the bathroom three times a day (A urinal twice and the toilet once).

3)  Cooling Tower

Cooling towers can use excessive amounts of water and chemicals as part of its water treatment program to reduce corrosion, eliminate scale and manage bacteria levels. There are programs that exist which reduce water and use of chemicals. Many of these programs include automating the blowdown of the tower and sub-metering to provide real time data in water usage and leak status.

4) Metering

Installing permanent meters for two or more water subsystems which include: irrigation, boilers, reclaimed water, domestic hot water, and indoor plumbing can aide a facility manager in managing their water usage in an efficient and sustainable manner

Knowledge is only the beginning

Knowledge of water conservation practices is only the beginning is of a commercial building battle to conserve it water wisely. The implementation which is key will require more than knowledge of what needs to be achieved.