Thought Leadership

World Water Week 2023

World Water Week – August 20-24

Seeds of Change: Innovative Solutions for a Water-Wise World 

Rushing celebrates World Water Week 2023 which focuses this year on innovations in design during a time of unprecedented challenges. Planning for various water uses within a building is becoming a high priority. This is due to the increasing cost and scarcity of new and existing water resources and increasing water consumption annually per capita —often resulting in more stringent water use requirements in new construction applications.

There are substantial savings to water, energy, and operations and maintenance that can be achieved through the implementation of water reduction measures for new building projects. Innovative water management and design strategies can help projects use water more wisely. Through an integrative process, projects teams can begin by assessing existing water resources, determining opportunities for reducing water demand, and exploring alternative water supplies if available.

Effective Strategies to Reducing Water Use in New Construction Projects

Distribution system audits, leak detections, and repairs

During the design process of a project, it is essential to develop a whole-building water budget and implement a commissioning process for the water distribution systems. Metering individual buildings and units can help detect leaks and identify areas for needed repairs to avoid wasting water and unnecessary increased water bills.

Water-Efficient Landscaping

Water used for landscaping can account for a significant amount of the building’s total water consumption. As a key area to target for water use savings, the following are strategies to designing a water efficient landscape for a new project:

  • Limit or avoid the inclusion of turf and other irrigated areas.
  • Ensure irrigation systems are designed efficiently through low-flow sprinkler heads, efficient system and design layout, and optimized irrigation schedules and controls.
  • Specify native or climate appropriate plants that are adapted to the local environment (xeriscape strategies).

624 Yale

Efficient Showerheads, Faucets, Toilets, and Urinals

Installing efficient plumbing fixtures can save significant amounts of water and associated energy used in heating water.  For example, low-flow showerheads that include atomizers that create smaller and more abundant droplets, pulsators that vary spray patterns, and aeration technology, allow for less water to be used with no discernible difference in the quality or comfort by the user. In addition, ultra-low flush (ULF) toilets and urinals help lower a building’s total water consumption and costs associated with water and sewer utilities. WaterSense labeled fixtures are water-efficient products that are verified through third-party certification and meet EPA’s specifications for water efficiency and performance. Use of WaterSense products can help projects achieve water reduction and operational effectiveness.

Boilers and Steam Systems

Boilers and steam generators often use large amounts of water to make hot water and/or steam that is then subject to losses from leaks and “blow-down” processes.  Strategies to achieve water and cost savings from boiler and steam systems are highly site specific, but may include the following:

  • Properly sizing boiler and steam units (and possibly downsizing units by reducing facility heat and steam requirements—and thus reducing makeup water requirements).
  • Specifying the most cost-effective systems and higher life-cycle options.
  • Installing a smaller boiler or distributed system for reheating or dehumidification requirements instead of inefficiently running a large boiler at partial loads.
  • Considering alternative technologies such as heat pumps for small loads.

Cooling Tower Management

Cooling towers assist in regulating indoor air temperature of a building by removing heat from air-conditioning systems or by cooling hot equipment, requiring vast amounts of water. To reduce the use of potable water used in cooling towers, water used for other purposes within a facility can be recycled and reused as make-up water. Additional measures that improve the efficiency of water in cooling towers include installing side stream filtration systems, installing covers to block sunlight and inhibit algae growth, and installing automated chemical feed systems to control against scale, corrosion, and biological growth.

Water Reuse and Recycling

Buildings often include water uses applications that don’t always require potable water. The use of non-potable water for appropriate uses can help lower a building’s total water consumption and costs associated with water and sewer utilities. The following are strategies that can be employed for utilizing reused or recycled water:

  • On-site water reuse or recycling
  • Reclaimed/treated water
  • Gray water
  • Water catchment systems

For each of these strategies, it is imperative to review all applicable federal, state, and local standards and permitting requirements for treating and utilizing non-potable water resources.

Rushing’s Plumbing Studio applies our current knowledge of materials and products, codes, and system design to every project and coordinates closely with the overall team to deliver an integrated, customized solution with the best possible outcome for both the owner and the planet.

Design and Analysis Tools