Water usage is usually a greater concern with residential, industrial, and health industry buildings than commercial buildings, but there are steps commercial property owners can take to reduce their water bills. (More about conserving water.)
Leaks are a huge source of water waste. Owners should have dedicated staff to identify and repair leaks promptly. One small drip can cause nearly 6,000 gallons of water to be lost over the course of a year. Overuse should also be targeted. Sinks should be low-flow, and sink faucets should be aerated for efficiency. By law, toilet tanks must be 1.6 gallons or smaller. (More about leaks and low-flow fixtures.)
While imported water coolers are not part of the water bill, they do contribute to pollution through the required delivery. They often require electricity to keep cool. Responsible buildings will install water fountains connected to a tap source. Good tasting and easily accessible filtered tap water will decrease bottled water or water cooler purchases by employees. Eliminating water coolers will also save on electricity and delivery costs and their associated pollution.
Where possible, buildings should collect and reuse rainwater, greywater, and groundwater. In most parts of New York City, groundwater is not accessible. Greywater, which is non-toilet wastewater, can be reused to generate energy through heat exchange mechanisms. Greywater can also be used in toilets, depending on the applicable plumbing code. (More about greywater.) Stormwater, which is rain falling on the building, can be reused in similar ways. During a building renovation, an owner may consider a roof redesign to harness stormwater. Heat from draining hot water can be recovered for heating water. (More about drain water heat recovery.)
Green roofs are a way to reduce excess discharge of stormwater. This can reduce sewage charges. Green roofs will reduce the amount of heat absorbed by the top floors and can cut cooling costs during warm months. (More about green roofs.)