Bodies address water-efficiency in building design

ASHRAE among parties developing standard to optimise water usage

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The standard will aim to reduce water usage in HVAC&R systems among other aspects of building design
The standard will aim to reduce water usage in HVAC&R systems among other aspects of building design

Four American construction industry bodies are in the process of developing a standard to provide baseline requirements in the design of buildings, site and mechanical systems with the aim of improving water-efficiency.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE), the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) are working in conjunction to define the standard.

With HVAC&R systems accounting for around a third of water consumption in a typical office building, the need to minimise water usage is a major consideration in the built environment industry.

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“Water efficiency and conservation is a critical factor in the design and operation of buildings,” John Swift, chair of the committee writing the standard, said.

“Buildings consume 20% of the world’s available water, a resource that becomes scarcer each year. Efficient practices and products provide opportunities to save significant amounts of water.

"The reduction of energy use and operating costs and the expectation of increased government regulation will continue to drive faster adoption of water-efficient products and methods.”

The requirements in the standard would optimize the volume of water required to operate HVAC systems, plumbing systems and irrigation systems. There is currently no standard document that adequately and comprehensively addresses the issue of how to efficiently use water in the design, construction and operation of buildings, according to Swift.

The proposed standard covers HVAC&R and non-HVAC&R systems including: evaporative heat rejection; humidification systems; thermal storage; ground source pump systems; water heating systems; laboratory facilities and residential appliances. It would not apply to storm water management.

The standard will provide the tools that a design team needs to properly apply water efficiency measures on all aspects of a building design and construction project. In order to optimize water efficiency in buildings, plumbing, fire protection and HVAC&R engineers must work closely with civil engineers and landscape architects in putting together a functional building mechanical system.

ASHRAE/USGBC/ASPE/AWWA Standard 191P, Standard for the Efficient Use of Water in Building, Site and Mechanical Systems, is currently open for public comment from October 26 until December 10, 2012. To comment on the proposed standard or for more information, visit www.ashrae.org/publicreviews.

ASHRAE, founded in 1894, is a building technology society with more than 50,000 members worldwide. The Society and its members focus on building systems, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, refrigeration and sustainability within the industry. Through research, standards writing, publishing and continuing education, ASHRAE shapes tomorrow’s built environment today.

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