Commercial & Industrial Conservation & Efficiency
Water saving opportunities in commerce and industry vary vastly by industry.
Municipally Supplied Business and Industry
Although water providers offer conservation programs to their commercial and industrial customers, they are often highly individualized, designed on a case-by-case basis. Grand Junction, Ute Water Conservancy District, and Clifton Water District, on Colorado’s Western Slope, conducted audits on six commercial and industrial businesses in the area. Water-saving opportunities varied from customer to customer: A high school was able to save the most water by upgrading its sprinkler system and making outdoor irrigation changes; a restaurant saw the most water-saving opportunity in an upgrade of its old ice machine; and a printer was able to save the most water by upgrading to high-efficiency toilets and urinals.
Denver Water says that it has seen some of its highest industrial savings by working with customers to concentrate the number of times water runs through a cooling tower before being drained to the wastewater system. Improving the efficiency of cooling towers can use strategies such as minimizing “bleed-off,” recycling and reusing, installing closed-loop cooling systems, and replacing water-cooled with air-cooled equipment.
High-efficiency plumbing offers a secure solution to water use in restroom facilities used by employees or for the public. Water-Sense toilets and urinals can save a significant amount of water in commercial facilities, while sink faucets and toilets may also be retrofitted to reduce water use. Water-Sense fixtures and sensor-activated control devices that release water from lavatory spigots, improving efficiency by preventing water from running in fixtures that are not in use.
Outdoor Landscapes and Irrigation
Large landscapes are prime candidates for conversion to water-wise designs, water-efficient irrigation systems, and aggressive management. Under the care of a qualified professional, these landscapes present significant opportunities for savings.
In addition, landscape contractors can play a significant role in improving water use efficiency. An understanding of water-wise landscaping alternatives and the latest advances in water-efficient irrigation systems, as well as regular implementation of accepted best management practices, can decrease water demand at new developments and existing residential and commercial properties.
Businesses and industries use process water to clean products; transport or remove ingredients, products, or contaminants; and control pollution or dispose of waste. Both demand for process water and potential reductions in use are site-specific. Among the technologies that can improve the efficiency of process water use are smaller tanks in sinks for washing and rinsing, intermittent-flow rather than continuous-flow systems, and batch processing equipment.
Oil and Gas
By recycling water used for energy extraction, or putting produced water to use for extraction, oil and gas companies are lessening their demand.
Business Challenges and Water Efficiency
As in residential situations, there are numerous challenges with widespread implementation of water-efficient technologies and practices in commerce and industry. Some key stumbling blocks are the cost of improved technology, minimal understanding of the options available to help conserve, and indifference to water pricing.
Through focus groups, Denver Water learned that most commercial, industrial and institutional customers want water-efficiency measures to pay for themselves within a year. Facility owners are less inclined to invest in measures involving longer payback periods without incentives such as programs to repurchase saved water or the threat of surcharges related to water shortages.
Although professional water use audits can identify opportunities to improve efficiency, businesses must also be willing to devote staff time and resources to evaluating options and implementing changes.