Data-Enabled Water Management Makes Life Greener for Facilities Managers
From cooling towers to sewer systems and landscape irrigation, water is one of the four key elements of nature that facilities professionals must manage to ensure the most efficient use of this precious resource.
Unfortunately, most water systems are not top of mind — until something goes wrong. Even then, the event is likely to go unnoticed without notifications or physical intervention. Unless your water management is connected via the Internet of Things (IoT), there’s no way to know when something goes wrong.
Outdoor water management is a perfect example. Many facilities operate irrigation systems with irrigation controllers that are nothing more than glorified timers. These are rarely adjusted, so the typical facility is overwatering every day. Damages from overwatering can include:
- Hardscape damage
- Slope and foundation damage and increased risk of mold
- Plant loss
- Penalties and fines
- Brand damage
- Increased slips and falls
Thankfully, those days are over. Now data-enabled, smart water management, connected via IoT makes it possible to locate leaks, pipe breaks and mitigate irrigation overwatering in real time, before damage is done.
Data-enabled Water Management is Key to Water Optimization
Many facility managers using IoT and big data are proving that these powerful tools make it possible to save a significant amount of water and money through smart water management.
Why are leading facility managers now so focused on data-enabled water management? Since 2010 water rates in the U.S. alone have risen more than 41 percent on average,1 and large water users are seeing substantial increases in their water costs forcing organizations to make difficult choices and prioritize water usage.
Leveraging IoT to Create Energy Managed Water Systems
IoT provides the ability to cost-effectively establish real-time wireless communication, control and sensing in the field, while leveraging the cloud and big data to do the heavy lifting.
With smart irrigation systems, water delivery is weather-based. The system transmits site conditions to the cloud, enabling cloud-hosted big data systems to identify new problems before they become huge expenses. With flow sensors on cooling towers, changes in water makeup percentages result in a host of operational inefficiency alerts.
For example, as the implementation of water restrictions and regulations continues, smart water management data helps keep track of water agency compliance regulations. Without them, you and your other facility managers could spend hours verifying that your buildings are compliant, only to find that regulations have changed.
Smart water management solutions also enable you to verify compliance in a single report and automatically receive updated information on a regular basis. Before these IoT, big data and cloud solutions were available, it was impossible for managers to have continuous visibility into a facility’s water use and waste. With affordable real-time flow sensor and wireless technology, facility managers and landscape contractors can be instantly alerted to any leak issue, whether it happens indoors or outdoors. Massive amounts of information and use analytics transform the data into succinct actionable knowledge.
Saving Billions by Deploying IoT-Driven Smart Water Management
Smart water management platforms today are saving leading companies billions of gallons of water, millions of dollars and thousands of staff hours annually. They accomplish this by using field-proven water sensors and water control systems with affordable wireless communications (IoT).
Like energy management systems, these systems can be customized to meet an organization’s unique needs. By documenting building water use across portfolios, you can identify use anomalies and potential liabilities. Facility managers can also manage water use through real-time dashboards that allow proactive budget monitoring.
What to Look for in a Smart Water Management Solution
When selecting a data-enabled smart water management solution, there are three critical areas to consider:
- Solution track record: If you’re looking for a smart water management system, ensure it is certified (such as by WaterSense, a partnership program by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) and check recent references of customers with sites like yours. Also, ask if any independent studies have been performed on the technology. If so, how many and by whom?
- Total cost of ownership: Your goal as facility manager is to ensure you get the biggest bang for your buck. Don’t be lured into systems that just tout low costs. Many of these “low-cost” solutions fail to deliver more than average savings and the technology requires either frequent recalibration or replacement to remain accurate.Instead, evaluate data-enabled water management systems based on the total cost of ownership. Look at the technology choices made by large retailers, as they tend to look at the long view and are extremely cost conscious.
- Extensibility of the solution: A key consideration when selecting a smart water management solution is whether it is based on a platform that allows users to efficiently and economically upgrade, add complimentary products and address new pain points as they arise.The bottom line? IoT and big data will continue to be a focal point in water management discussions. Why? Because these solutions offer true value and solve important facility issues. The key is to make sure your decision makes economic and operational sense by choosing a system that delivers what really matters — actionable knowledge that saves time, money and, ideally, one of the planet’s most precious resources.