MEP CA AB 1103

Water Conservation for Commercial Buildings

The US population has doubled over the past 50 years and in that time, our thirst for water has tripled. At least 40 states are anticipating water shortages by 2024. This underscores the need to conserve water and integrate water management best practices in buildings and facilities.

Plumbing, heating and cooling, and irrigation needs comprise a large percentage of typical office building water use. High efficiency plumbing fixtures and eliminating irrigation are two easy ways to minimize those uses.

Water reduction strategies such as monitoring water meters and tracking use, installing WaterSense labeled and other high efficiency restroom fixtures, and minimizing or eliminating landscape irrigation altogether are effective measures in reducing one’s water footprint. Additionally, eliminating single pass cooling and optimizing cooling tower efficiency are important steps in making temperature- regulating solutions more water saving conscious.

The EPA is a testament to how managing water, maintaining progress, and implementing new water projects to reduce water consumption can be done right. They reduced their water intensity by 43.5% in 2021 compared to 2007.

The EPA water management plans help individual facilities set long- and short-term water conservation goals. The top 10 water management practices that the EPA has implemented to reduce water use at their facilities are:
  • Meter, measure, and manage facility water to assure equipment is running correctly and maintained properly.
  • Optimize the cooling towers that provide air conditioning, consume large amounts of water, and can be optimized by controlling the ratio of water discharged to water evaporated.
  • Replace restroom fixtures with those that have earned an EPA WaterSense label for efficiency and performance.
  • Eliminate single-pass cooling, in favor of air-cooled or recirculating chilled water systems.
  • Use water-smart landscaping and irrigation such as weather-based irrigation controllers and soil moisture sensors to water only when plants need it.
  • Control steam sterilizer water with retrofitted sterilizers with a tempering water control kit or replaced old steam sterilizers with models that only temper water when needed.
  • Reuse laboratory culture water by pumping culture water into laboratory specimen tanks from local bodies of water and then discharge it into the sewer or treat and return it to the body of water.
  • Control reverse osmosis system operation by regulating purified water generation ratios to meet demand and making sure systems are sized accordingly.
  • Recover rainwater from the roof and redirect it to a storage tan for use in toilets, cooling towers, and irrigation.
  • Recover air handler condensate water from the cooling foils for use as cooling tower make-up water.