Fuel usage and ways to reduce it are typically a high priority item for sustainable buildings due to the high cost and environmental impacts. Another commodity building owners should be equally concerned about is water. Water prices are also a variable, and water scarcity is a factor that can cripple production if not managed. The food processing industry and other industrial and commercial operations are greatly dependent on the availability of water to manufacture products and complete processes. Water usage plans are essential for protecting this valuable resource and the operations of sustainable buildings.

Just as energy conservation plans are created for sustainable buildings, a water usage plan can be created using many of the same ideas. Creating a water usage plan offers many benefits to industrial and commercial businesses, including lowering overhead costs and creating environmentally friendly operations. Taking the steps below will help sustainable buildings create their water usage plans.

1. Determine the cost of water usage

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Consider the cost of water usage in a similar light as fuel costs. Both are essential to operations, and companies need a clear idea of the total price of using such commodities. Analyze how the business currently uses water to determine which areas are most expensive and how water usage may be better allocated.

2. Control process water usage

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Direct water use is more obvious and easy to pinpoint than embedded water use. This hidden water use can account for a much larger portion of the company’s total water use. The entire production process from start to finish should be considered to get a better accounting for total water use. The amount of water consumed to produce one unit of product is often much higher than realized. Sustainable building operations should evaluate their production process to determine if there are more water efficient methods which can be put into place in order to cut water consumption.

3. Recycle resources

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Sustainable buildings should put into place wastewater collection methods to reuse and conserve water resources. Through wastewater collection, treatment, and recycling, businesses can reduce their demand on local potable water supplies. This process can also eliminate pollutants which may otherwise be discharged back into the environment through wastewater.

4. Consider water-smart upgrades

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When it is time to upgrade or build new sustainable facilities, make water management a priority. By considering the supply chain and the production process, sustainable building designers can create water-smart facilities which help an operation lower water usage in all aspects of operations. Determining the total impact of a sustainable building’s total water use from the beginning provides valuable insight as to how future water usage can be lowered and effectively managed.