Water Resiliency in Commercial Facilities

Access to water is a topic that makes me nervous in commercial facilities. Facilities plan for emergency power outage by installing generators and battery systems. Those with renewable power generation coupled with energy storage could ostensibly ride out an extended power outage, or operate in situations when refueling the emergency generator becomes impossible.

I don't hear about facilities preparing for emergency water outage in the same way. As I researched my October article in Building Operating Management on water efficiency, I realized what I really wanted to focus on was water resiliency. What are facilities doing to capture their own water, treat their own water, and become self-sufficient in terms of water in the face of extended shortages or outages? The short answer is, not much. Water is cheap and easy, for now. But that is not a safe bet, not with crumbling infrastructure, environmental threats, and natural disasters simply a matter of when, not if.

But water resiliency is starting to enter the conversation. I learned about a hospital in Canada that has a municipal mandate to have a three-day water supply so that the facility can remain operational. That's not just drinking water — it's toilets and HVAC and sterilization. I learned other hospitals in the US are also implementing similar strategies. That's good news. But what about everybody else? Are you counting on water to always be available when you need it, or have you taken steps to make your water-dependent systems more resilient? I'd love to hear what you've done.


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