3 Ways to Improve Your EPA 1-100 Water Score

Nick Arehart  |  March 30, 2018   |  Energy & Sustainability  

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Before we know it, summer will be just around the corner! The mercury’s rising… and so are your property’s water bills.

The EPA 1-100 Water Score, powered by Portfolio Manager®, helps you track your multifamily property water use at a glance. Keep water use low to keep your score high! Scores are adjusted for geography, climate, and building size, among other factors, showing you how your buildings stack up against other similar properties and EPA recommendations.

Consider these tips to keep your 1-100 Water Score high, and your water bills low, this summer.

1. Keep Your Appliances Water-Smart

When it comes to easy water-saving updates, the place to start is your property’s big-ticket water-intensive fixtures and appliances: faucets, shower-heads, dishwashers, and laundry machines.

  • Faucets: modern Department of Energy-standardized faucet flow rates are capped at 2.2 gallons per minute (gpm), versus 3 to 7 gpm for pre-1992 models – a potential 69 percent savings on water use.
  • Shower heads: new WaterSense®-certified shower heads are similarly capped at 2 gpm. Make the switch to keep your showers efficient.
  • Dishwashers: today’s ENERGY STAR®-certified dishwashers use up to 65 percent less water, and 10 percent less energy, than older models.
  • Laundry machines: modern high-efficiency, front-loading washers use less than half the water and energy per load than old models, and can handle almost twice as much laundry per load.

All told, by updating water-intensive hardware in the kitchen and laundry rooms, you could save drastically. The EPA estimates that a single household switching to new, water-smart appliances would save about 1,100 gallons of water annually! Multiplied across a whole building’s tenants, that works out to major utility savings and a better 1-100 water score.

2. Renovate, Renovate, Renovate

If you’re ready to make bigger changes to your building’s water infrastructure, you could save even more.

Toilets draw huge amounts of water. Older models can use up to 5 gallons per flush (gpf). By replacing older units with WaterSense-certified tank-type toilets, which are capped at 1.28 gpf, you can expect to up 7,000 gallons of water per tenant per year!

Centralized water cooling and heating systems typically process almost all water for mid- and high-rise multifamily properties, so inefficient or poorly-maintained hardware can quickly undermine your water-conservation efforts. The EPA recommends replacing single-pass cooling systems with water-recirculating cooling tower models where possible. This one replacement can reduce building water use by as much as 40 times.

Air-cooled systems can lose significant quantities of water through evaporation if poorly maintained, so after retrofitting, make sure to give your cooling towers the regular maintenance and inspections necessary to keep bleed-off, drift, leak, and overflow loss to a minimum. The water savings from air-cooled systems often pay for maintenance many times over.

Boilers and steam systems typically present fewer efficiency and maintenance challenges, since they generally remain sealed and self-contained for their entire lifespans. Still, EPA recommends working with a trained water treatment vendor to identify your boiler’s ideal operating conditions and your water’s total dissolved solids (TDS) to keep your boiler functioning within its intended parameters.

3. Take Charge of Your Utility Data

Smart water management starts with understanding your business’ water usage data. EPA’s Portfolio Manager requires you to enter your water data by hand, which can mean scouring endless utility bills for the right line-items and figures.

Here at Urjanet, we say: it can be easier. Our automated utility data platform aggregates and analyzes your utility data and delivers it to you in the format best for your business, to help you understand your water spend and see where you can save.

Ready to take the guesswork out of your water management? Contact us today.

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About Nick Arehart

Nick Arehart is a marketing intern at Urjanet who specializes in financial services and sustainability. He's passionate about content that informs and inspires. When he isn't writing for us, he's finishing up his chemistry degree at Emory University.