Water > Indoor Water Use

WATER AUDITS

A water audit analyzes a facility’s water use and identifies ways to make it more efficient. An audit reviews domestic, sanitary, landscaping, and process-water use and recommends ways to increase your facility’s water-use efficiency. An audit is often free of charge and can save your sports departments and institution money in avoided water use costs.

Consider contacting a contractor to increase the efficiency of water use in your sports facilities. Some contractors will conduct audits of water use and will help finance water efficiency improvements in exchange for a share of cost savings. For a list of water conservation contractors, visit the American Water Works Association’s Guide to Suppliers. Contractors who perform water efficiency audits can be found under “conservation.” Many of these companies operate nationally.

For detailed information on water audits and water efficiency, see New Mexico’s Water Conservation Guide for Commercial, Institutional and Industrial Users.

Visit the EPA’s Guide to Water Conservation Programs for additional water conservation opportunities in your state.

LOW-FLOW FIXTURES, WATERLESS URINALS, AND WATER-EFFICIENT APPLIANCES

Installing water-efficient appliances, low-flow fixtures, and aerators saves money and water. Aerators for faucets and showers require an initial capital investment, but they can often pay back the investment in under a year, especially in situations where they are in heavy use.

Installing waterless urinals not only saves water, but also reduces energy use, infrastructure costs, water discharge costs, and maintenance costs. A single waterless fixture at a stadium or arena can save an average of 40,000 gallons of water per year, and saves energy by eliminating the need for water to be transported to the urinal or discharged to a water treatment facility.

By reducing the load on treatment plants, waterless systems can help reduce the need for costly water treatment capacity and reduce the incidence of overflow events at treatment facilities. Research also shows that waterless urinals are more hygienic than traditional urinals, as the absence of water reduces bacterial growth.

Dual flush toilets also offer water savings opportunities. A dual flush toilet offers two flush settings for either solid or liquid waste, typically 1.6 gpf vs .8 gpf, and can reduce water use by as much as 70%.

Product Specifications

  • Toilets: 1.28 gpf or 1.6/0.8 gpf dual flush
  • Urinals: 0.125 gpf or waterless
  • Faucets: 1.5 gpm
  • Shower heads: 1.5 gpm
  • Service sinks 2.0 gpm

Also consider replacing old washing machines with water-efficient washing machines for your sports department’s laundry. Consult Energy Star’s Commercial Clothes Washers for product listings.

EPA Plumbing and Water Conservation Contract Language
Whole Building Design Guide Sample Contract Language

For a database of environmentally intelligent products that can help reduce water use, visit the following databases:

EPA WaterSense Program’s Product Specifications
Oikos Green Product Database
EPA’s Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Database
EPA – Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines: Suppliers Database

WATER REBATES

Many utilities and city governments offer incentives to purchase and install low-flow and waterless fixtures. Contact your water utility to learn more about these programs. For water rebates near you, consult EPA’s Water Rebate Finder.

STUDENT INVOLVEMENT

Student involvement in sports greening efforts can reduce demands on staff time and departmental resources. Student involvement can also help attract support from facilities, athletics, recreation, campus administration, and other departments. The following idea is one example of a task for students to conduct in your sports facilities. This preliminary student project could help facilitate interest in reducing water consumption across all sports facilities and institution-wide. Consider encouraging interested students to do the following:

Water Facilities Audit:

Complete a preliminary walkthrough audit to identify opportunities for installing water-efficient appliances, low-flow fixtures, waterless urinals and aerators on faucets throughout your sports facilities. Identify floors or entire facilities without any water-efficient fixtures and suggest locations for installing these. Consider writing up a business plan to encourage installing water-efficient fixtures and appliances.

Visit the relevant page in this guide for more ideas for Student-Led Project Ideas.

*HELPS EARN AASHE STARS POINTS*

Conducting water audits and improving water efficiency at your sports facilities can help your institution earn points within the “Water” subcategory of AASHE’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). It can directly contribute to earning up to 6 points for the credit “OP 26: Water Use.” Work with sustainability and facilities staff on your campus to support any institutional efforts to attain or improve your institution’s STARS rating. Use the STARS 2.0 Technical Manual to learn more.

ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS

Almost half of the world’s population lives without a steady supply of clean drinking water. In the United States, many sources of freshwater are being depleted faster than they can be recharged by natural processes. This is especially true in the Southwest. The Colorado River, for example, which supplies water to 30 million people in seven states and Mexico, is at its lowest level since water flow records began being kept about 100 years ago. It often runs dry before it reaches the sea, adversely impacting farmers, residents, and aquatic life.

Water conservation is especially important in light of the looming pressures of global warming, which threaten to significantly increase evaporation as well as instances of severe drought. Water scarcity will rival sea level rise as one of the most threatening consequences of global climate disruption for communities across the United States and worldwide. Water conservation measures can help to ensure that current and future generations have access to the water they need.

COLLEGIATE SPORTS EXAMPLES

>> The University of North Texas’ LEED Platinum Apogee Stadium is outfitted with low-flow plumbing fixtures–sinks, toilets, urinals, and showers–that reduce water consumption by more than 52 percent in comparison with a typical building of the same type. To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Collegiate Game Changers report.

>> In 2009, the University of Arizona upgraded their LEED Platinum Student Recreation Center with high efficiency plumbing fixtures, which have reduced the center’s water use by 47.5 percent. To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Collegiate Game Changers report.

>> The University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium includes efficient fixtures that reduce indoor potable water use by 30 percent relative to a standard stadium of the same size. To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Collegiate Game Changers report.

>> University of Florida’s Heavener Football Complex, constructed in 2008, features dual-flush toilets and other low-flow plumbing fixtures that reduce water use by 40 percent. University of Florida’s Southwest Recreation Center features waterless urinals, dual-flush toilets, and sensored faucets reducing water use by 43 percent (each urinal alone saves 40,000 gallons annually). To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Collegiate Game Changers report.

>> The University of Colorado Boulder’s LEED Platinum basketball training facility, which opened in 2011, is approximately 40 percent more energy-efficient and 30 percent more water-efficient than other recent buildings of similar size and function thanks to low-flow water fixtures. To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Collegiate Game Changers report.

>> At Yale University’s Payne Whitney Gym, showerhead upgrades save 800,000 gallons of water and $6,500 in water costs yearly.To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Collegiate Game Changers report.

>> Arizona State University’s LEED Gold Weatherup Center features low-flow water fixtures and other water-efficient practices that reduce water use by more than 30 percent. To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Collegiate Game Changers report.

PROFESSIONAL SPORTS EXAMPLES

>> Before switching to waterless urinals in 2007, each of the 178 urinals at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles (home to the Lakers, Clippers, Kings, and Sparks) was consuming 44,000 gallons of water each year. Now each waterless urinal saves roughly 4.5 HCF per month, totaling over 7,000,000 gallons per year. The STAPLES Center now saves over $28,000 per year in direct water costs, not including sewer charges, reduced maintenance costs, and any other municipal taxes. To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Game Changer report.

>> In 2010, the Boston Red Sox’s Fenway Park implemented many plumbing renovations, including the installation of waterless urinals, dual flush toilets, and water-efficient fixtures. Together, these have reduced overall water consumption by 30 percent, saving more than 360,000 gallons each year. To learn more, read the full feature in the NRDC Game Changer report.

>> In 2009, the Miami HEAT achieved a 16.7 percent reduction in potable water use at their American Airlines Arena and saved more than $5,000 in water costs through low-flow faucet and toilet upgrades and by increasing plumbing efficiency. To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Game Changer report.

>> Low-flow urinals, dual flush toilets and aerated faucets use 30 percent less potable water at the Minnesota Twins’ Target Field than conventional fixtures and are estimated to save 4.2 million gallons of water annually. To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Game Changer report.

>> Water used inside the Orlando Magic’s Amway Center was reduced by 40 percent through the use of high-efficiency water closets, urinals and lavatory faucets, and low-flow plumbing fixtures like dual-flush toilets, resulting in savings of more than 800,000 gallons of water per year. To learn more, read the full case study in the NRDC Game Changer report.

>> The Seattle Thunderbirds’ LEED Gold Showare Center features low-flow fixtures that reduce water consumption by 40 percent to save 380,000 gallons annually. To learn more, read the full feature in the NRDC Game Changer report.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

NRDC – Water
AASHE Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS)
AASHE STARS 2.0 Technical Manual
EPA WaterSense
EPA – Using Water Efficiently: Tips for businesses
EPA – Water Efficiency Programs by State
Case Studies in Efficient Water Management
EPA’s Water Rebate Finder

Click here for information for water audit efficiency providers in your city

Anaheim: Contact Anaheim Public Utilities at (714) 765-4256 for a free water audit or more information on low-flow fixtures and water conservation strategies. The East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) also offers free water surveys.

Arlington: For more information about water conservation in the city of Arlington, visit City of Arlington: Water Utilities and Conservation or contact the Water Utilities Department at (817) 459-6600

Chicago: For more information about water conservation in Chicago, visit the City of Chicago’s website.

Denver: Contact Denver Water at (303) 628-6000 for a free water audit. Denver Water offers businesses up to $40,000 in water efficiency incentives, including rebates for high efficiency fixtures. Contact conservation@denverwater.org for more information. 

Houston: For more information on water conservation in Houston, visit the Public Utilities Division. 

Los Angeles: For water conservation rebates, contact the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s Save Water, Save a Buck Program at 877-728-2282.

Miami: For more information on water conservation in Florida, visit the South Florida Water Management District. See the South Florida Water Management District’s Water Efficiency Self-Assessment Guide for Commercial and Institutional Building Facility Managers for more information on water efficiency.

Minneapolis: Contact the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program at (612) 624-1300 for assistance with water conservation.

Oakland: Contact East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) at custsvc@ebmud.com or 866-403-2683 for a free water audit.

Phoenix: For more information about water conservation in Phoenix, call the Water Services Department at (602) 256-3370. The city offers free workshops on water efficient landscaping and a wealth of literature on water conservation.

San Diego: Contact the City of San Diego Water Department at (619) 515-3500 or water@sandiego.gov to arrange for a free water audit. The City of San Diego Water Department offers several rebates and incentives for businesses looking to install low-flow fixtures and other water saving devices.

San Francisco: Contact the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission at (415) 551-4730 for a free water audit through their Water Wise Evaluation Program. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission offers several incentives for businesses looking to increase their water use efficiency, including rebates for high efficiency washers and toilets.

Seattle: Contact Resource Venture at (206) 343-8505 or help@resourceventure.org for a free water audit or assistance with improving the efficiency of your water use. There are also several incentives available to businesses trying to improve the efficiency of their water use. Contact the Saving Water Partnership at (206) 684-5883 for more information.

Tampa: The St. Petersburg Water Resources Department offers free audits of outdoor irrigation practices. Contact them at (727) 892-5018 or WRDCustomerService@stpete.org for more information. The St. Petersburg Water Resources Department offers a variety of incentives for businesses looking to increase the efficiency of their water use, including free faucet aerators and rebates for high efficiency toilets.

Toronto: Toronto Water will split the cost of a water audit for interested customers. Contact the water efficiency coordinator at (416) 392-1661 for more information. Toronto Water also provides a variety of incentives for businesses looking to improve the efficiency of their water use.