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Water Management And Sustainability

Water management and sustainability are critical concepts that revolve around the responsible and efficient use of water resources to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It involves the integration of various practices and policies to ensure the conservation, protection, and equitable distribution of water resources while also considering the environmental, social, and economic aspects.

Yaron Dycian is the Chief Strategy Officer for WINT Water Intelligence. Dycian believes that major changes can be made by re-evaluating our buildings from the inside out. WINT’s AI-powered water management technology has been responsible for saving millions of gallons of water per year, and has positively reduced the carbon footprints of historic structures like the Empire State Building and entities like the Weizmann Institute of Science. According to Dycian, in many places around the world, water is a relatively unmanaged resource. Dycian says that because water is so readily available in most places around the globe, most people don’t think twice about their usage and habits. This is especially true in densely populated areas where residents may pay a flat fee for their water, thus not thinking twice about its usage.

The result of this, according to Dycian, is that about a quarter of all water that goes into buildings is wasted. There are a number of reasons for this consistently high percentage of water that goes to waste, such that Dycian refers to it as “death by a thousand cuts.” Whether it’s a running toilet or a leak in a water irrigation pipe, there are a massive number of unmonitored water leaks throughout the United States. As a result, unmonitored water leaks have a cascading effect of damage, where one bad appliance or pipe can cause a much larger problem. Dycian points out that water leaks and breaks result in tens of billions of dollars in damage each year worldwide, making it the top problem for construction insurance and third for property insurance.

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According to Dycian, the main challenge standing in the way of a more sustainable future of water resource management is the lack of monitoring. This challenge has not gone unnoticed, and more and more companies are moving to install water management systems in their buildings. Dycian believes that, over the next decade, the installation of water management systems will be standard, particularly for large, high water-use buildings. Dycian also points to the current trend on retrofitting, which is another outcome of the AEC industry recognizing challenges with water resource management. Structures like the Empire State Building, which was completed nearly a century ago, are adapting to the modern era by installing water management systems like WINT. Dycian says the push to install water management systems in new and old buildings is the increasing cost of insurance premiums and water itself. New buildings are particularly susceptible to damage from water system leaks and breaks. During this stage, when new systems are being installed and problems are still being worked out, a leak or break that aligns with a period without labor–such as a weekend–could result in catastrophic damage. To accommodate for this risk, more and more companies are turning to solutions like WINT.

The ability to manage water resources more efficiently is crucial for creating a more sustainable AEC industry for the future. Water waste represents a significant obstacle in the way of that more sustainable future. Dycian says that the process of getting water to a building and through a shower or tap is in itself an environmentally-intensive process. Chemicals are needed to treat the water at both ends, and a tremendous amount of energy is needed to facilitate and maintain its movement throughout systems. Additionally, processes like sewage treatment emit a significant amount of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Overall, the process of pumping, treating, and moving water has a large carbon footprint. Thus, to minimize the impact of these processes on the environment, Dycian believes that managing water more efficiently is a major component of a more sustainable future.

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This consciousness of water as a finite resource extends beyond usage in taps and showers, but also focuses on water-intensive systems like the cooling towers that run air conditioning. Beyond the massive amount of water needed to run systems like cooling towers, a small malfunction or leak can result in that water flowing directly into the sewage system. Dycian uses the example of WINT’s work on the Empire State Building to illustrate the significance of monitoring such systems. After deploying WINT’s technology at the Empire State Building, a cooling tower malfunction was quickly identified. Identifying this malfunction resulted in saving the building $100,000 per year.

As the AEC industry strives to build a more sustainable future, the management of water as a resource will continue to grow in importance. As projects and systems become larger and more complex, the need to protect these projects and investments grows in tandem. Wasted water on construction projects and already-existing structures represents not only a toll of a resource that is growing in scarcity but also an increase in the carbon footprint of the systems that allow us to use it. Technologies like WINT Water Intelligence will be critical as the AEC industry adapts to the increasing need for more sustainable processes.

Source: csengineermag

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