In Commercial Buildings, Water Savings Lead to Big Benefits

“Existing buildings are also seeing more emphasis on water savings. In areas like San Francisco, where upgrading to high-performance lavatory fixtures is a requirement, some of that interest is a result of government stipulation; however, building owners everywhere can benefit from the financial benefits. “We’ve seen incredible financial returns” for upgrading to water-saving features, Macko says, adding that they can yield up to a 25% return on investment in the first year.”

The Knowledge Builder

“Please do not drink the toilet water.”

While that statement might seem overly cautionary, it may soon appear over every toilet in some of the most cutting-edge high-rises in San Francisco thanks to a growing emphasis on water conservation and recent provisions allowing for greywater use in commercial buildings for flushing.

“For the first time in California’s history, we’ll see private commercial developers using non-potable sources for fixture supply. This is a marked departure from the norm,” says Matt Macko, principal at San Francisco–based Environmental Building Strategies.

In forward-thinking markets like San Francisco, LEED gold and platinum levels are becoming the standard as new buildings compete for status as the most cutting-edge and efficient in order to better attract tenants, and as corporations seek to brand themselves through their architecture. In order to reach these lofty certifications, planners “have to incorporate things like greywater and storm water systems,” Macko…

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