Water > Indoor Water Use

Water audits

A water audit analyzes a facility’s water use and identifies ways to make it more efficient. An audit reviews domestic, sanitary, landscaping, and process-water use and recommends ways to increase your facility’s water-use efficiency. An audit is often free of charge and can save your organization money on avoided water use costs.

Consider contacting a contractor to increase the efficiency of your organization’s water use. Some contractors will conduct audits of water use and will help finance water efficiency improvements in exchange for a share of cost savings. For a list of water conservation contractors, visit the American Water Works Association’s Guide to Suppliers. Contractors who perform water efficiency audits can be found under “conservation.” Many of these companies operate nationally.

For detailed information on water audits and water efficiency, see New Mexico’s Water Conservation Guide for Commercial, Institutional and Industrial Users.

Visit the EPA’s Guide to Water Conservation Programs for additional water conservation opportunities in your state.

Water audits save money

Before switching to waterless urinals in 2007, each of the 178 urinals at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles (home to the Lakers, Clippers, Kings, and Sparks) was consuming 44,000 gallons of water each year. Now each waterless urinal saves roughly 4.5 HCF per month, totaling over 7,000,000 gallons per year. The STAPLES Center now saves over $28,000 per year in direct water costs, not including sewer charges, reduced maintenance costs, and any other municipal taxes.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey at LaGuardia Airport is upgrading its restroom facilities to increase the water-use efficiency of toilets, faucets, and showers. It installed a leak detection system, ultra–low flow toilets, high efficiency aerators for faucets, and flow restrictors on showerheads. These improvements have yielded annual water savings of almost $140,000, compared with an initial capital cost of only $90,000.

Unilever, which produces over 400 brands of home, personal care, and food products, performed a water audit of a laundry detergent factory in Georgia in 1995 and then embarked upon a program of increased efficiency efforts, including rainwater collection, wastewater reuse, and educating employees on the economic and environmental importance of water conservation. These improvements save the company over $100,000 a year. 

Case Studies in Efficient Water Management – A collection of water efficiency improvements and cost savings from the state of California.

 

Low Flow Fixtures, Waterless Urinals, and Water-Efficient Appliances

Installing water-efficient appliances, low flow fixtures, and aerators saves money and water. Aerators for faucets and showers require an initial capital investment, but they can often pay back the investment in under a year, especially in situations where they are in heavy use.

Installing waterless urinals not only saves water, but also reduces energy use, infrastructure costs, water discharge costs, and maintenance costs. A single waterless fixture at a stadium or arena can save an average of 40,000 gallons of water per year, and saves energy by eliminating the need for water to be transported to the urinal or discharged to a water treatment facility. By reducing the load on treatment plants, waterless systems can help reduce the need for costly water treatment capacity and reduce the incidence of overflow events at treatment facilities. Research also shows that waterless urinals are more hygienic than traditional urinals, as the absence of water reduces bacterial growth.

Waterless Urinal Vendors:

Duravit
Falcon Waterfree Technologies
Kohler Co.
Sloan Valve Company
Waterless Co.
Zero Flush

Dual flush toilets also offer water savings opportunities. A dual flush toilet offers two flush settings for either solid or liquid waste, typically 1.6 gpf vs .8 gpf, and can reduce water use by as much as 70%.

Many utilities and city governments offer incentives to purchase and install low-flow and waterless fixtures. Contact your water utility to learn more about these programs. For water rebates near you, consult EPA’s Water Rebate Finder.

Product Specifications

  • Toilets: 1.28 gpf or 1.6/0.8 gpf dual flush
  • Urinals: 0.125 gpf or waterless
  • Faucets: 1.5 gpm
  • Shower heads: 1.5 gpm
  • Service sinks 2.0 gpm

Also consider replacing old washing machines with water-efficient washing machines for your organization’s laundry. Consult Energy Star’s Commercial Clothes Washers for product listings.

EPA Plumbing and Water Conservation Contract Language
Whole Building Design Guide Sample Contract Language

For a database of environmentally intelligent products that can help reduce water use, visit the following databases:

EPA WaterSense Program’s Product Specifications
Oikos Green Product Database
EPA’s Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Database
EPA – Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines: Suppliers Database

Low-flow Fixtures and Waterless Urinals Save Money

Before switching to waterless urinals, each of the 178 urinals at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles was consuming 44,000 gallons of water each year. Now each waterless urinal saves roughly 4.5 HCF per month, totaling over 7,000,000 gallons per year. The STAPLES Center now saves over $28,000 per year in direct water costs, not including sewer charges, reduced maintenance costs, and any other municipal taxes.

The Veterans Affairs Hospital in Portland, Oregon performed a water audit in 2007 and implemented a variety of water savings measures, including low-flow toilets, faucets, and showers. Savings from these low-flow fixtures amount to nearly $20,000 per year, reducing annual water use by over 1.6 million gallons.

Environmental Benefits

Almost half the world’s population lives without a steady supply of clean drinking water. In the United States, many sources of freshwater are being depleted faster than they can be recharged by natural processes. This is especially true in the Southwest. The Colorado River, for example, which supplies water to 30 million people in seven states and Mexico, is at its lowest level since water flow records began being kept about 100 years ago. It often runs dry before it reaches the sea, adversely impacting farmers, residents, and aquatic life.  Water conservation is especially important in light of the looming pressures of global warming, which threaten to significantly increase evaporation as well as instances of severe drought. Water scarcity will rival sea level rise as one of the consequences of global climate disruption. Water conservation measures can help to ensure that future generations have access to the water they need.

Additional Resources

EPA WaterSense
EPA – Using Water Efficiently: Tips for businesses
EPA – Water Efficiency Programs by State