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Save the Planet

We know that saving water can help the environment in a myriad of ways; but did you know that saving water also helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

In previous blog posts, we have discussed how saving water can help lower your water bill

But did you know how much CO2 goes into bringing one litre of water into your building? 

Let’s take a look.

Treating & Pumping Water

In Canada

Bringing water into a building begins at the municipal level, where water must first be treated and pumped. This previous blog post illustrates the cycle of water. 

How much energy does this process take?

In Canada, the Ontario Government reported 38% of municipal electricity is consumed on pumping & treating water.

According to Gridwatch, 60% of Ontario’s power generated is nuclear and another 1.3% is wind, both of which are carbon neutral. This leaves 38.7% of energy sources generating carbon (29.1% of this is hydro, which uses carbon in its early years and then has a lower carbon footprint in later years, so we will leave it in the calculation). This means 22% of Ontario’s municipal energy that’s used to pump & treat water uses CO2.

According to the guide for York Region in Ontario, the average water use per capita in Canada is 251 litres per person. Ontario’s current population is 14.57 million people, so Ontario uses 365,707,000 litres of water per day.

End-use demand in Ontario in 2017 was 3 035 petajoules (PJ) for the year.

22% of 3,035 pJ is 667 pJ, which means 1.82 pJ/day are used in Ontario to pump and treat water.

Since 365,707,000 litres of water are used in Ontario per day, this means 1,820,000,000 mj/365,707,000 = 4.97 mJ/L is used to pump & treat water. This equates to 1.38 kW/h or 0.003 metric tons of CO2.

In the USA

In the US, more than 13% of the nation’s electricity consumption, or nearly 521 billion kilowatt hours (kWh), is associated with water-related energy use.

Energy used to move, treat, distribute, and use water produces nearly 290 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually – the equivalent of 5% of the US’s overall emissions. 

More than 8.5 billion gallons of drinking water are produced annually by the utilities that submitted data. The total energy used to produce this volume of water is just over 22 million kilowatt hours.

Heating Water

In Canada

Now let’s look at energy to heat water, using our previous guide that the average water use per capita in Canada is 251 litres per person. 

Using the hot water table and York Region guides above, we can extrapolate that:

Toilets use 65L-100L (we will round to 88L) of water per day, and no hot water.

Showers use anywhere from 28.5L-300L (we will round to 100L) water per day, and 73.1% (73.1L) of that is hot water.

Faucets account for 15% of household water use, or 37.65L. 72.7% of that is hot water, or 27.37L.

Dishwashers account for 10% of household water use, or 25.1L. 100%, or 25.1L, of that is hot water.

This means that…

Total household water usage: 251L

Total hot water usage: 125.57L

 Let’s look at how much it takes to heat water using the average temperatures of a shower temperature at 38C, and a cool room temperature at 20C. 

Using this calculator, heating 125.57L from 20C to 38C uses 2.61 kW/h. Which is equal to 0.00001 metric tons of CO2 for 100L. 

This value can vary depending on the temperature the water is heated to, and the temperature that the water starts at (especially in the winter, when the water must be heated from cooler temperatures).

0.00001 metric tons of CO2 to heat 1L + 0.003 metric tons of CO2 to pump & treat 1L = 0.00301 metric tons of CO2 to heat, treat, and pump 1L of water.

For each L of water, this is equal to 

7.6 miles driven by a passenger vehicle

0.337 gallons of gasoline consumed

3.3 pounds of coal burned

366 smartphones charged

In the US

In Michigan, 17% of all residential energy use goes to heating water.

Nationally, 70% of residential water is heated with natural gas and 29% is heated with electricity. 

The total energy used for water treatment, residential use, and wastewater treatment contributes more than 83,219 lbs CO2/MG of water. Associated with the more than 8.5 billion gallons of water treated and used, plus 22 billion gallons of wastewater treated in the watershed each year, 178 million lbs or nearly 89,000 tons of carbon dioxide are emitted.

Now that we’ve looked at the numbers for the impact of saving even 1 litre of water, consider how great the impact would be in a multi-unit residential building saving hundreds of litres of water each day. 

Connected Sensors is here to help with your water conservation strategy that will help you save money and save the planet. Contact us today to learn more.
Sincerely,
The Connected Sensors team
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Save the Planet

Reducing your building’s overall water consumption benefits more than just your bottom line.

A water conservation strategy helps to alleviate the stress of increasing water bills. But by reducing water usage, you’re also reducing your building’s energy consumption required  to heat that water. 

In addition to helping your bottom line, reducing your overall water & energy consumption benefits the environment. 

Municipal Water Sources

In Ontario, 40% of municipal electricity is spent on pumping & treating water

Whenever a building is primed with water, municipal intake valves have to open; the transportation of this water uses significant energy resources, producing emissions. 

After water is used, it needs to be treated, which is another burden on a municipality’s resources.

Making water drinkable uses an energy-intensive process that involves extraction and filtration, which requires non-renewable resources. This contributes to greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). 

The diagram below, by HOMES Water Inc., displays the treatment cycle of water. 

Lower Water Levels Affect Water Sources

Using more water, at home or in a business, takes that water out of water sources such as lakes and rivers. Less water in these sources affects the wildlife within them. 

Low water levels in water sources such as reservoirs have impacts on the aquatic environment, as well as the environment around it. Lower water levels can contribute to a higher concentration of pollutants.  

Improving water efficiency helps maintain safe levels. 

Water is Scarce

Only 3% of the Earth’s water is freshwater. 68.7% of that water is held in ice caps and glaciers, leaving less than 1% of Earth’s water in total as usable water.  

Approximately ⅕ of the Earth’s population, or 1.2 billion people, live in areas where water is physically scarce. 

It’s more important than ever to preserve the little fresh water that we have, so that communities in need can have access to fresh water. 

Implementing a water conservation strategy in your multi-unit residential building has many benefits, both for your operating costs and for the environment at large. If you are looking to implement a water conservation and leak detection strategy, Connected Sensors is here to help. 
Sincerely,
The Connected Sensors Team.

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Instruction, Save the Planet

Properly disposing of your water waste is an important part of the environmental impact of your multi-residential building’s water system. 

But why is properly disposing of sewage important? According to the UN, “as populations grow and natural environments become degraded, ensuring there are sufficient and safe water supplies for everyone is becoming increasingly challenging. A major part of the solution is to produce less pollution and improve the way we manage wastewater”. As our population grows and becomes more urbanized, more wastewater is produced and the overall pollution load is increasing as a result. 

Furthermore, globally 80% of wastewater goes back into the ecosystem without treatment or with insufficient treatment, resulting in 1.8 billion people using contaminated drinking water, which can lead to diseases such as cholera and dysentery. 

On a local scale, there are several negative impacts of flushing the wrong things down the toilet. These include:

-Damages or blockages in your building’s plumbing system, which can potentially cause flooding

-Damage to the city’s sewer pipes

-Damage to treatment plants of wastewater

-Damage to aquatic life that inhabits local lakes and streams

Below are a few ways that you can help your multi-residential building to ensure your sewage system is operating as smoothly as possible. 

Educate Your Tenants

One of the most important ways to help your building’s waste water is to educate your tenants, since most of the water exiting your building will come from your tenants. 

Working with your tenants to educate them on what they can and cannot flush will help your building’s sewage system work optimally. 

Below are a sample of items that tenants may be flushing that they should not.

-Hygiene products, such as dental floss, cotton swabs, sanitary products, and diapers

-Cooking grease and other fats and oils

-Car products, such as antifreeze

-Medications

-Household hazardous waste, such as paint

Use Advanced Wastewater Treatment

Currently there are several advanced wastewater treatment options available on the market. These systems can offer benefits such as improving nitrification/denitrification performance over traditional systems.

Screening devices are another option which reduce suspended solids by promoting natural sedimentation. 

Ensure Your Sewage Compliance

If you are located in Ontario, you can visit the ontario.ca website to perform a sewage self-assessment and ensure your system is compliant with regulations

We all have a role to play in ensuring we protect our limited water resources during the entire use cycle, from source, to treatment, to conservation of use, to disposal. Multi-residential buildings play a large role in the protection of our water. To learn more about how your building can help, contact us today.
Sincerely,
The Connected Sensors Team.

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Instruction, save money, Save the Planet, utility costs

In our last blog post, we looked at ways that landlords can reduce water expenses; but how can high rise buildings conserve water overall?

Let’s look at a few methods of water management that high-rise buildings can use as part of their water conservation strategy in conjunction with investing in more water efficient infrastructure. 

Reduce Leaks

On average, leaks account for approximately 13% of all water usage, and 1 in 5 toilets leak. Locating and repairing these leaks plays an important role in water conservation.

Once the initial leaks have been addressed, it’s important to continue to monitor your building for leaks. Tenants do not tend to report these leaks and can’t be held accountable. The cost of repairing these leaks & losing water due to unaddressed leaks has a huge impact on a multi-unit residential building’s bottom line.

Invest in Greywater or Rainwater Harvesting

Rainwater harvesting utilizes water that’s naturally provided to us for certain building applications, such as irrigation, toilet flushing, storm water control, and more, depending on how advanced the system is. 

In a study performed in Toronto, in a ‘normal’ year of precipitation, rainwater harvesting systems supplied 59%-79% of non-potable water.

Greywater harvesting systems are less glamorous – they capture, filter, and store the water tenants use from systems such as showers and sinks. It is estimated that the usable domestic greywater resource can account for 35-39% of non-potable water demand, such as garden irrigation. However, the complexity of the system must be considered as part of implementation, since the water will require treatment if contact with a human is possible.

Encourage Tenants to Conserve Water

In multi-unit residential buildings, tenant accountability is a major issue when it comes to conserving water. Simply put, if they are not charged for their water, tenants are less likely to monitor and conserve their water usage.

There are a few ways that you can encourage tenants to become more involved with monitoring their water usage.

-Involve tenants in the discussion of the impact of water conservation on the planet through video chats, meetings, flyers, etc.

-Implement submetering so tenants become responsible for their own water bills. By transferring costs directly to the tenant, they become more aware of their individual water usage and are more likely to work towards conserving water. Furthermore, they become more likely to report leaks.

-Use gamification to encourage tenants to more actively participate in water conservation. 

Water conservation is vital for the planet and we all need to work together to preserve our freshwater resources. By working together with tenants and using the resources that are currently available, multi-unit residential building managers can help conserve water and reduce their water bills.
Sincerely,
The Connected Sensors Team.     
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Instruction, Save the Planet

Across Canada, many condominium owners are seeing their condo maintenance fees increase, even as building owners and managers try to reduce operating costs and water expenses.

At the same time, building managers are battling against the increase in water bills – water costs are increasing by an estimated 10% per annum. 

Why are these maintenance fees increasing? Higher vacancy rates as a result of COVID-19 are one factor. Another is ageing infrastructure leading to energy inefficiency, especially in older buildings. But lack of capital, risk, and comprehension of implementation are all challenges on the path to implementing energy-efficient retrofits. 

But these energy-efficient retrofits have benefits for the buildings that outweigh the costs, both immediately and in the long-term. Below are a few benefits of investing in energy efficiency for your building.

Energy Cost Savings

When implemented and managed correctly, energy retrofits can reduce energy bills by an estimated 15-40%. These can be achieved with a combination of updated infrastructure upgrades (i.e. new toilets and showerheads), and building automation (i.e. automated lighting systems). With increased water expenses annually, it is more important than ever to invest in improved water infrastructure. And with water being heated by gas or electricity, less water being used will also impact those utility bills. By lowering energy usage, gas, electricity, and water utility costs will lower.

Capital Reinvestment

By reducing energy bills across the building, the money previously spent on wasteful energy can be reinvested into the building or returned to the tenants.

Investments in infrastructure also improve the cap rate (the rate of return on a real estate investment property) of the building. They also help the building become more competitive by continually investing in building improvements, and make the building more desirable for future tenants, many of which are preferring greener buildings. 

Benefits the Environment & Your City

In the City of Toronto alone, multi-unit residential buildings account for over half of the city’s dwellings, and produce an estimated 17% of the city’s greenhouse gases. Lowering energy usage in MURBs across electricity, gas, and water benefits the environment. It is estimated that improved energy efficient retrofits can help reduce greenhouse gases from buildings by 20%. 

In addition, water conservation reduces the amount of water that requires treatment at the municipal level. Less water used also offloads some of the pressure on sewage systems. 

If you are located in Canada and you are considering investing in greener retrofits for your MURB, you may be eligible for the Canada Greener Homes Grant. Visit the Government of Canada website to learn more. 

If you are looking to improve your water efficiency in your building, Connected Sensors is here to help. Contact us today and we can help you learn how to save money, save your building, and save the planet.
Sincerely,
The Connected Sensors Team.
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Instruction, Save the Planet

Fresh water is a finite resource.


Only 3% of the water on the planet is freshwater, and less than 1% of this is ready for human use.

Yet, of this small amount available for use, we use over 10 billion tons of water daily.

Our demand for water is only growing; it’s estimated that by 2050, our demand for water will grow by another one-third. With 1.4 billion people already living in areas that are running out of water, our need to reduce our overall water consumption is vital.

The good news is, water sector technological innovation is working to prevent a global water crisis.

What are some of the water challenges we currently face?


Demand outpacing supply of water is one of our main water concerns, but other challenges are exacerbating this issue.

 

Production and manufacturing use large amounts of water for many of our commonly used items. For example, manufacturing a car uses 67,500 litres, a smart phone uses 12,100 litres, and one t-shirt uses 2,500 litres. Many of our staple food products also use large amounts of water. 1 kilogram of coffee beans uses 21,000 litres, 1 kilogram of chocolate uses 24,000 litres, and 1 kilogram of beef uses 15,500 litres. Together, global water use, storage and distribution – and the lack of wastewater treatment – contributes 10% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions

Climate change is also affecting our water supply. With weather patterns changing, we are experiencing more extreme weather patterns such as droughts and wildfires, which is contaminating or using up our water supply. 

 

Improving our water conditions are important to both reducing GHGs, and providing water to billions of people.

How can technological innovation help the situation?


There are multiple sectors across the supply chain that can be improved to reduce our overall water usage. During the process, we can work to improve:

 -Water Collection

Desalination/purification

Pumping

Repairing/replacing ageing infrastructure

Logistics and distribution

Monitoring water usage


Monitoring water usage alone can have a large impact, both on the environment and fiscally. Some $301 billion of business value is at risk because of water stewardship challenges, yet it would take corporations just $55 billion to deliver appropriate mitigation and adaptation initiatives. Beyond risk management, there are an estimated $711 billion US dollars in business opportunities when investing in water security.

What steps are big businesses taking?


Some big businesses are stepping up their goals for decreasing water usage – in the 2020 CDP Global Water Report, major players such as Ford and L’Oreal reported reaching net zero withdrawals by replenishing the water they withdrew. Others, such as Mars and Samsung, are increasing investments into innovations that reduce water usage. 

 

However, overall, the CDP report shows that only 4.4% of businesses are reporting progress against water pollution reduction targets. 

 

In conclusion, taking action on water risks through water sector technological innovation is essential for climate action, and it makes business sense. It can stimulate economic development and create jobs. Implementing a water risk mitigation solution is a great way to begin the process of taking action on water in your business. Contact us today to learn more!
 
Sincerely,
 
Your Connected Sensors Team

 

 

 

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Save the Planet

The rate of construction of high-rise buildings is higher than ever.

But with increasing concerns about environmental sustainability and green initiatives, how can you make your building more sustainable? 

There are many possible sustainable initiatives that you can take which improve your building’s carbon footprint and can reduce operating costs, but these are just a few examples.

Improving Energy Efficiency


There are multiple areas of your building where you can improve your energy efficiency.

Heating & Cooling

Heating & cooling loss can be high, especially in older buildings or in buildings located in colder climates such as in Canada. 

 

Make sure to check your insulation, and in new buildings, keep them as airtight as possible and opt for high-performance insulation. In older buildings, consider investing in replacement windows and doors to reduce air leaks. If you are replacing your windows, there are double-glazed windows available that have ventilation between the panes to reduce heat consumption.

Equipment & Lighting

When making an initial purchase or replacing equipment, opt for high-performance, energy-efficient systems such as those certified by Energy Star. 

 

Work to replace your lights with LED lights, which not only are 75% more energy-efficient than incandescent, but also have a much longer lifespan.

Invest in Alternative Energy

High-rise buildings are perfect candidates to consider alternative energy sources. Examples of these include:

-solar panels on the roof 

-thermal energy planned during design

-wind turbines on the roof

For new construction buildings in Canada, Energy Star is offering a new construction pilot program to help builders adopt energy efficient practices.

Implement Building Management Systems

Improving your sustainability in existing builds starts with monitoring your systems to determine where improvements can be made. 

 

By integrating SMART technologies with building architecture, you can create new experiences and opportunities for collaboration. SMART sensors can feed data to the integrated Building Management Systems to allow the building to adapt and optimize for improved energy efficiency. 

 

One example of an integrated sustainable building management system is a water management system. By implementing a flood detection system, you improve your sustainability by reducing water waste from leaks and floods. You can also utilize water management to implement submetering to encourage tenants to monitor and regulate their water consumption. 

Consider Certification

 

Once you have begun utilizing sustainable efforts in your building, you can look into a sustainable certification. One example in Canada is LEED through the Canada Green Building Council. 

In conclusion, there are many ways to make new builds sustainable or improve the sustainability of existing buildings. Not only do these sustainable efforts help the planet, but they can help lower the operating costs of your building. If you are looking to implement a water management system in your building, contact us today.
 
Sincerely,
 
The Connected Sensors Team
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