The WaterSense Current Winter 2013
Issue XXV, Winter 2013
In This Issue:
WaterSense at Work Makes It Your Business to Be Water-Efficient
From your office or school to your favorite hotel chain or restaurant, ever wonder how the facilities you visit most use water? Or do you want to make your workplace more sustainable? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released WaterSense at Work: Best Management Practices for Commercial and Institutional Facilities an online guide to help facility owners and managers better control their water use through efficient products and practices.
Commercial and institutional facilities use 17 percent of the water provided by the nation's public water supplies, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Schools, offices, restaurants, hotels, hospitals, laboratories, and other facilities can significantly reduce their water use, energy requirements, and operating costs by understanding their water use patterns and incorporating the best management practices in WaterSense at Work.
To demonstrate how this information translates into actual water, energy, and cost savings, the guide also features seven case studies about facilities demonstrating water savings in the commercial and institutional arena, some of which will be featured in upcoming issues of the WaterSense Current. First up, Holiday Inn reveals how a hotel can offer green accommodations for environmentally conscious travelers and reduce its utility costs.
In 2007, the Holiday Inn San Antonio International Airport achieved Texas-sized water savings when it replaced its circa-1981 bathroom toilets, faucets, and showerheads in the facility's 397 guest rooms. The hotel got a boost from the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) WaterSaver Hotel Program which helps area hotels retrofit bathroom fixtures by funding the products and their installation. Water use per occupied room at the Holiday Inn dropped 35 percent following the retrofit, saving the hotel a total of 7 million gallons of water per year and about $68,000 in annual water, sewer, and energy costs!
WaterSense is working on more ways for hotels and restaurants to achieve a green edge by using less water. EPA plans to release a draft specification to label pre-rinse spray valves in January 2013, providing an opportunity for commercial kitchens to reduce the water used by these fixtures, which help get cafeteria and restaurant dishes ready for the dishwasher.
To learn how your workplace can implement its own water management plan to build a sense of community beyond the water cooler, explore WaterSense at Work's best management practices. For more information about water-efficient pre-rinse spray valves, visit the Pre-Rinse Spray Valves page.
Fix a Leak Week 2013 Reminds Homeowners to Check for Leaks Inside and Out
More than 1 trillion gallons of water are lost annually nationwide due to easy-to-fix leaks both inside and outside American homes. EPA has declared March 18 through 24, 2013, the fifth annual Fix a Leak Week—a time to find and fix leaks to stop wasting water. Fixing household leaks not only saves water, but it can reduce water bills by an average of 10 percent. WaterSense partners are joining the effort by reminding Americans to check, twist, and replace fixtures in their bathrooms, kitchens, and even outdoors to ensure they aren't wasting this precious resource.
To determine if you're wasting water, start by examining your winter water bills. If a family of four is using more than 12,000 gallons per month, you may have a leak. You can also check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter changes at all, you probably have a leak.
In the kitchen, check the pipe fittings underneath your sink for any water on the outside of the pipe. Track down silent toilet leaks by placing a drop of food coloring in the tank at the back of your toilet. If any color shows up in the bowl after 10 minutes, you have a leak, which might be easily fixed by replacing the rubber flapper in the tank. Don't forget to flush after conducting this test! Another easy-to-check bathroom leak is the showerhead; turn on the water and check for drips where the showerhead meets the pipe stem.
Outside, turn on your hose and check for dripping water where it connects to the spigot. While you're at it, make a mental note to check your in-ground sprinkler system this spring to make sure it's not damaged from any winter frost or freezing.
Once you've identified the source of a leak, you can stop the drops yourself by tightening connections or applying pipe tape to ensure they are tightly sealed. If your showerhead drips when it is not in use, you might have a more complicated valve leak, which a licensed plumber can help you fix.
For additional savings, twist a WaterSense labeled aerator onto each bathroom faucet to save water without noticing a difference in flow. Faucet aerators cost a few dollars or less and can save a household more than 500 gallons each year—equivalent to the amount water used to shower 180 times!
For those drips that can't be nipped with a twist, it may be time to replace the fixture. If you're shopping for a new toilet, bathroom faucet, or showerhead, look for WaterSense labeled models, which use at least 20 percent less water and are independently certified to meet EPA's strict performance criteria. If all inefficient faucets and aerators in the United States were replaced with WaterSense labeled models, we could save 64 billion gallons of water annually.
To learn more about what WaterSense partners are doing in your community to help consumers find and fix household leaks inside and out, visit the Fix a Leak Week page.
Show Us Your Water-Smart Landscapes in a New WaterSense Photo Contest
Are you a green thumb with a knack for saving blue? If so,Facebook and Instagram aren't the only places where you can show off your water-saving landscape projects. WaterSense's Water-Smart Landscape Photo Contest invites home and business owners, landscape designers, irrigation professionals, and anyone else committed to saving water to submitsnapshots of landscapes from any time of the year—including past years—that demonstrate how water-smart practices can be both beautiful and efficient.
Participation is easy and open to the public, and multiple entries are welcomed. Photos of landscapes that depict water-smart landscaping principles in an attractive way will be featured in the Water-Smart Landscape Photo Gallery this spring, after which we will ask our Facebook followers to vote for the greenest—and most water-smart—thumb. WaterSense will give priority to photo entries of landscapes with:
- Drought-tolerant, low water-using, or native plants
- Mulch around shrubs and garden plants
- Limited or functional use of turfgrass
- Water-efficient irrigation design and components (e.g., micro or drip irritation, weather-based irrigation controllers, etc.)
WaterSense will share some of the best water-efficient and aesthetically pleasing landscape photos on its Facebook page. The photos earning the most votes will be featured in WaterSense outdoor water-saving outreach in 2013.
Photos will be collected until February 15, 2013. Think your yard has what it takes? Learn more about how to enter WaterSense's Water-Smart Landscape Photo Contes.
Partner Profile: Colorado Springs Utilities
From helping to build the first WaterSense labeled new home in the Rocky Mountain State to getting hundreds of restaurants to save water, 2012 WaterSense Promotional Partner of the Year Colorado Springs Utilities demonstrates how dedicated outreach can lead to major water savings. Colorado Springs Utilities' award, which came shortly before the utility's sixth anniversary as a WaterSense partner, was based on its collaboration with other WaterSense partners, use of social media to promote water efficiency, and water-efficient efforts in the commercial sector.
In 2011, Colorado Springs Utilities encouraged hundreds of commercial kitchens to test free, high-efficiency pre-rinse spray valves. These fixtures are used in commercial food operations to prepare dirty dishes for the dishwasher, and they can waste both water and energy if they are not efficient models.
In addition to conducting onsite spray valve demonstrations with owners and managers of restaurants and other commercial kitchens, the utility shared the water-saving benefits of WaterSense labeled toilets, showerheads, and faucets in commercial restrooms. The 362 facilities that participated in the commercial retrofit program saved more than 20 million gallons of water in 2011—one-third of Colorado Springs Utility's annual water savings goal.
"The WaterSense label provides trust and authenticity of performance and savings," said Frank Kinder, senior water conservation specialist for Colorado Springs Utilities. "WaterSense makes conservation easier, more profitable, and helps everyone win."
The utility shared the feedback it received from the commercial retrofit program with WaterSense's pre-rinse spray valve task force. The product performance, acceptance, and usage information has been invaluable in helping EPA develop its draft WaterSense specification for pre-rinse spray valves.
Colorado Springs Utilities also presented water savings opportunities to numerous other commercial entities in its Business Users Group, including private industry organizations, the Pikes Peak Lodging Association, local plumbers, engineers, facility managers, and more. In total, the utility's WaterSense-related activities reached nearly 6,000 businesspeople in 2011.
Learn more about Colorado Springs Utilities and its efforts to promote WaterSense.
Inaugurate Your Friends to Water Efficiency in 2013
Water is an important part of our daily lives. Many of us wake up, take a shower, brush our teeth, and make a cup of coffee with a flick of the tap. But did you know the average American uses as much as 100 gallons of water per day at home? Ring in 2013 by taking the "I'm for Water" pledge and helping those around you become more water-efficient. This year, you can encourage your friends, colleagues, and neighbors to reduce their water use by connecting with WaterSense through social media and spreading the pledge for water efficiency.
Start by visiting WaterSense's Facebook page, where you can sign up to try three simple things to be more water-efficient, including checking toilets for silent leaks, twisting on a WaterSense labeled faucet aerator, or replacing existing products inside and outside your home with WaterSense labeled models.
For example, if you're warming up this winter by taking more hot showers, you can pledge to shower better by replacing your showerhead with a WaterSense labeled model. Inefficient showerheads not only waste water, they waste energy used to heat the water. With a WaterSense labeled showerhead, the average family can reduce annual water and energy costs by nearly $70 and save enough electricity to power the home for 13 days!
Once you take the pledge, inaugurate your friends and followers to water efficiency by tweeting your commitment to water and sharing the pledge on your Facebook page. You can also share the pledge via email or by adding a We're for Water widget to your website or blog.
To take the "I'm for Water" pledge and learn about ways you can help those around you make water efficiency part of their New Year's resolution, visit the EPA WaterSense Facebook page .