Water is the substance of life. It’s one of the most important things you can consume to improve your health, and most office workers don’t drink enough of it.
However, water is one of the last things offices think about, even eco-offices. After all, it just comes out of the tap, right? You pay the bill every month and have all the water you need.
Except we don’t really have all the water we need. Water shortages are endemic across the globe, and many areas of the country, like California, Arizona and Texas, have already implemented some form of water rationing.
How can your office provide your employees with the water they need without wasting this precious resource? Here are a few ideas.
Eliminate water waste in restrooms
The restroom is the biggest source of water waste. Although automatic-flushing toilets are fancy, manual toilets actually use less water since they don’t have sensors that trigger unnecessary flushes. Many countries outside of the U.S. use dual-flush toilets that allow users to choose a small flush for liquid waste vs. a large flush for solid waste. There’s no reason you need to use the same amount of water for every flush, so consider adding dual-flush toilets to your company restrooms.
Sinks are also a huge source of water waste. Either choose sinks with handles that can be turned on and off at will, or sinks with automatic sensors that click off as soon as hands are removed. Never use those sinks with the push-button faucet that slowly turns itself off. Most people are long done washing their hands by the time the push-button faucet timer ends, which means every time that faucet runs, it wastes water.
If you already have automatic toilets and sinks, call your service technician and ask for a sensor adjustment. Make sure the sensors do not go off too frequently. Test them to make sure they only activate when people want them to; every accidental flush wastes approximately 1.6 gallons of water.
Install boiler feed pumps
Hot water takes energy, so make your hot water more efficient by installing a water feed pump. The faster your water heats, the less water you waste waiting for the water to get hot. Be careful to manage the temperature control so it is not scalding; aim for a hot water temperature of around 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything over 125 degrees Fahrenheit can cause scalding or burns.
Use water coolers instead of bottled water
Some companies keep pallets of bottled water on hand for thirsty employees. This not only wastes materials, but also wastes water; think about all the times you’ve started a bottle of water and thrown it away without finishing it.
Instead, switch to an eco-friendly water cooler. Let employees pour themselves as much water as they can drink without wasting water or bottles. Look for a company that uses ecological, sustainable water practices.
Buy a dishwasher
Dishwashers use a lot of water, but they’re actually much more efficient than washing by hand. Washing a mug out in the sink requires you to wait for the water to heat, wash the mug and then rinse the mug. Dishwashers, on the other hand, use the same hot wash and rinse water for an entire load of dishes.
Choose a high-quality, energy-efficient dishwasher, and tell your employees they do not need to “pre-wash” their dishes in the sink before loading the dishwasher. Many people automatically take this step without realizing the water they’re wasting, as modern dishwashers are designed to handle food residue without pre-washing.
And don’t worry about your employees running the dishwasher too often. An office dishwasher is unlikely to run until it is packed full to bursting with dishes!
Start with these four steps to reduce your water waste and use water resources more efficiently. Get your entire office involved in the eco-office movement, and ask your teams for additional suggestions on how to reduce water usage. They may have ideas that will surprise you!