Emory Report
July 23, 2007
Volume 59, Number 35

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July 23, 2007
Clever construction helps Emory save water

Barbara Hudson is manager of training and communications for Campus Services.

From drinking, flushing and washing, to laboratory experiments, irrigation and steam production, Emory consumes approximately 450 million gallons of water each year. Emory and Campus Services have implemented several initiatives to conserve water, many of which are incorporated into our design and construction standards.

• Recovery and Recycling of condensate water from HVAC systems: Large amounts of condensation form on the cooling coils of the massive air conditioning units designed to cool our campus buildings.
Emory has implemented a method to recover and recycle this condensation, which has multiple benefits. First, the act of recycling means that Emory is able to purchase less water from the county. Second, it minimizes the number of times that the water is filtered through a treatment facility, which burns energy. Third, it reduces the amount of water lost to evaporation. And finally, it decreases the volume of water siphoned from the Chattahoochee River.

Emory has measured the volume of condensation recovered from Whitehead Biomedical Research Building and Emory Pediatrics Building at about 4.7 million and 2.5 million gallons of condensation per year, respectively.

• Landscape irrigation: Irrigation systems have been laid out in zones, which enable watering of select areas at different times. Emory has shut off the irrigation used to water the shrub beds that were planted three or more years ago. By now these shrubs should be established enough to handle drought conditions. Irrigation to these areas will resume if the plants begin to suffer. Turf is not as hearty and watering in these zones will continue. The Emory Exterior Services department can track our savings in water use on irrigation meters.

Additionally, landscaping is usually figured into a capital project’s scope and installed soon after the building’s completion. With all the construction and roads being realigned around campus, this would equate to new turf, shrubs, trees and other plant life that would require constant watering. However, with the ongoing drought, although newly planted landscaping is exempt from watering restrictions for the first 30 days, we have decided to plant only minimally in these areas so as to avoid the need for intensive watering. Emory closely adheres to county watering restrictions.

Underground cisterns have been installed during more recent construction projects, which collect rainwater for use in irrigation. However, not all areas of campus are equipped with this resource. Emory’s design standards have been updated to include cisterns whenever possible.

• Automatic faucets, low-flow showers and toilets:
With the level of water consumption activity on campus, savings are achievable through flow control devices. Conventional toilets run at about 7 gallons per flush but newer technology can save almost 5.5 GPF. Low-flow toilets and shower heads also are being installed and used around campus.
Automatic faucets help to reduce the amount of water used by shutting off the water when it’s not in use. Buildings around campus that do not already have automatic faucets will be upgraded to this technology. If your building does not yet have automatic faucets, be sure to turn the water on/off as needed rather than letting the faucet run.

• Steam trap reparation: Steam is used for a variety of purposes: heat, hot water, sterilization via autoclaves, etc. Steam traps are required in order to ensure that the steam lines between buildings and the plant operate properly. As traps become worn, leaks occur resulting in a loss of steam, which is produced using a combination of all utilities (gas, electricity and water). There are nearly 1,200 steam traps in Emory’s steam system. While it only can be estimated how much steam is lost at each of these varying sizes of traps, a loss as small as 1% of produced steam costs the University approximately $130,000 per year. Staff in Emory’s Steam Plant analyze, identify and repair traps on a regular, as-needed basis.

• Campus casing for leaks: As maintenance and custodial staff see parts of the campus that others do not, such as mechanical rooms and custodial closets, part of their routine includes watching for leaks in potable, chilled and sewer water lines. They also identify and repair leaking faucets or running toilets. You can help by keeping an eye and ear out for leaks and by notifying a representative of Campus Services.