This article originally appeared on Facility Executive
By Ian Dempster, CEM
Reduce Energy Use, And Save Water
An emerging focus on the water energy nexus—the interplay of these resources in building systems—holds promise for conservation.
Many facility managers do not know how much water is being wasted through their buildings’ HVAC systems. Fortunately, cutting this waste is a welcome byproduct of optimizing HVAC systems to reduce energy consumption and costs. Improving the efficiency of a central plant’s HVAC system, including automating components for real-time optimal performance, can cut chiller water use by thousands of gallons. The water energy nexus is a useful place to examine when conservation of both of these resources are a facility management goal.
Commercial buildings often draw more water for cooling and heating than for any other use. Water consumption varies by climate and building type, but studies by the California Urban Water Conservation Council and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency show that HVAC systems may account for 28% to 48% of a building’s water consumption, with restrooms and kitchens using 31% to 37%, and landscaping accounting for 18% to 22%.
Energy and water savings go hand in hand. The main factors determining a commercial building’s water usage are the size and efficiency of the chiller plant and the maintenance that cooling operators perform. An HVAC optimization solution should reduce system energy usage and costs, decrease water usage in chiller plants, and track savings. It could also calculate the most efficient operation of the whole system—whether for one building or an entire campus—in real time, continuously optimizing the performance of the chiller plant.
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