World Water Day is approaching fast

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Michael Jordan
Strategic Consulting, Sustainability

In the green buildings industry, much of the conversation is about energy conservation because of the importance of energy as a driver of both company operating expenses and greenhouse gas emissions.  With World Water Day approaching on March 22, it is a good time to consider that water has no alternative source and is critical to food, health…and energy.

In many corporate office environments, significant water savings can be achieved through better use of aerators and water-efficient fixtures in restrooms, more efficient irrigation, and management of cooling systems.  If you haven’t scanned your portfolio for water leaks, now is the time.  On-site water treatment can also save money from municipal fees. To prevent rainwater run-off, which can carry harmful chemicals into the water supply, deploy green roofs and/or increase the use of seep-through materials for sidewalks and parking lots.

World Water Day is also a good time to remind employees to consider ways to conserve at work and at home. Employee awareness can make a big difference in the success of corporate initiatives—assuming your company takes common-sense measures such as switching from water bottles to water coolers and pitchers in the office.

Some facts about U.S. water consumption:

–  Every eight months, 10.9 million gallons of oil runs off streets and driveways and into the waters off America’s coastlines – equivalent to the amount lost in the Exxon Valdez spill.
–  The average American uses between 80-100 gallons of water a day for indoor use.
–  On average 30% of residential water usage is spent on yard and landscapes.  Of that amount, 50% is lost to evaporation.
–  In 2009, approximately 18,000 beaches were closed or posted as unhealthy due to bacterial contamination and/or sewage spills.
–  80 percent of America’s consumptive water use goes toward agriculture.
–  Over 137,000 million gallons of water is withdrawn each day for industrial use.
–  The U.S. loses over 80,000 acres of wetland annually.

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