Waste Not, Want Not: Benchmarking Waste and Water Consumption
Benchmarking energy usage within a commercial space is such a well-established best practice that it’s taken for granted in many markets. Now, benchmarking water consumption and waste output could be achieving the same status. And, when it comes to water and waste, the benefits of benchmarking reach far beyond the real estate industry.
Commercial real estate, including offices, hotels, warehouses and healthcare facilities, consumes 17 percent of publicly supplied water in the United States. Water use is tied to population growth, heat stress, energy and water scarcity—issues that affect both business and the environment. Using off-the-shelf technology and industry best practices to reduce water consumption, a property could see a typical water savings of 10 to 30 percent.This can have an enormous impact on a building’s bottom line, the health of a community and the environment.
Likewise, waste reduction is also a growing area of focus, with more sectors focusing on waste prevention and waste recovery through recycling, repurposing and composting. The true cost of waste is not simply the cost of discarded materials; it encompasses the inefficient use of raw materials and the unnecessary use of water and energy. Typical cost savings of 15 to 20 percent for waste are readily available by using industry best practices.
With such significant achievable water and waste consumption reductions, it makes good business sense to further pursue these opportunities. BOMA International, enabled by the generous support received from Yardi and in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR® Program, launched the W2 Water & Waste Challenge for the real estate industry at the start of 2018. The W2 Challenge was a groundbreaking two-year initiative to support real estate practitioners in benchmarking water consumption and waste output, as well as provide supporting tools and resources for how to implement best practices to improve performance. The challenge is coming to a close at the end of 2019 and, to date, 56 BOMA local associations and 1,900-plus properties representing more than 496 million square feet have participated.