With water costs rising (up 29.5% nationwide in the past five years) and drought conditions becoming more prevalent in North America, reducing water consumption helps conserve one of the planet’s most important resources while also generating bottom-line savings. Low-flow toilets, waterless urinals and low-flow faucets can cut non-irrigation water use by up to 30%. And with a need to heat part of the water, any reduction in water use also helps cut energy use.
But reducing water use inside a facility is only part of the solution—don’t forget about landscape irrigation. Regency Centers is cutting its outside water consumption by replacing the conventional landscape-irrigation timers at 36 of its shopping centers with “smart” irrigation controllers. The system eliminates water waste through the automated adjustment of water output based on multiple environmental factors, including plant type and local weather.
“Combined, we anticipate that we’ll save more than 42 million gallons of water per year, which will result in significant cost savings to our company and our tenants,” said Mark Peternell, VP of sustainability, Regency Centers, Jacksonville, Fla.
Because conventional irrigation systems cannot adjust to fit changing weather conditions, they often end up overwatering. According to HydroPoint Data Systems, Petaluma, Calif., a supplier of WeatherTRAK Smart Water Management solution, landscapes typically receive 30% to 300% more water than needed. HydroPoint, which is supplying most of the smart controllers for Regency, estimates that the property destruction, water runoff and liabilities caused by overwatering may cost five to 10 times as much as the wasted water.
Smart-irrigation controllers use local weather information to adjust water amount, timing and duration. (The WeatherTrak system draws on information delivered wirelessly from satellite weather stations and automatically schedules irrigation based on individual landscape needs and local weather conditions.)
“Not only will this technology provide a direct savings in the form of lower water bills,” Peternell said, “it will also minimize sewer overcharges, landscape replacement and maintenance costs that can result from overwatering.”