What Are the Most Common Commercial Building Types That Pursue Water Harvesting?


Published: June, 2023 | by Wahaso Water Harvesting for Commercial Buildings

The Most Common Commercial Building Types That Pursue Water Harvesting

While residential, institutional, and government buildings often consider water harvesting systems, commercial buildings such as schools and higher ed buildings, corporate offices, research labs, hotels and resorts, and retail buildings, can often be a fit.

This article will delve into the types of commercial buildings where water harvesting projects can be successfully implemented.

Commercial Offices

Large office buildings are one of the primary categories for water harvesting integration due to their significant water consumption, particularly when situated on a large corporate campus. These proejcts often have large roof areas that can capture rain water effectively, which can be collected and stored in cisterns, to then be treated and reused for landscape irrigation, toilet flushing, cooling tower makeup, centralized laundry, vehicle fleet wash, etc. They may also present an opportunity to harvest stormwater from softscape and hardscape, cooling condensate, groundwater, and/or greywater from showers and laundry, though greywater is more common to residential settings.

Multifamily Apartment Buildings and Residential Developments

Rainwater, stormwater, and greywater harvesting are appropriate for large scale residential projects, particularly when occupancy is more centralized in a single large building, allowing for access to high volumes of shower water, if not also central laundry wash, for toilet flushing and/or irrigation use. Water harvesting may be applied to residential developments, particularly as droughts and water scarcity in certain densely populated areas persist, but it is not as practical due to the challenge of capturing water from individual buildings spread over a large area.

Hotels and Resorts

Hospitality settings rely heavily on water for landscaping, flush fixtures, laundry, and guest amenities such as swimming pools and fountains, which can be mitigated through integrating a water harvesting and reuse plan. In conjunction with high efficiency flush fixtures and lav sinks, capturing rainwater, stormwater, greywater from showers and laundry systems, if not also cooling condensate, provides a sustainable non-potable water source that can be used for numerous applications. For projects with significant volumes of water consumption, the use of a water harvesting system brings impressive water consumption reduction and an attractive Return on Investment.

Retail Stores and Shopping Centers

Shopping centers tend to feature expansive roof areas, extensive paved surfaces, and often large air handling units, making them ideal for water harvesting when coupled with high-volume water use categories like cooling tower makeup, irrigation, site cleaning, and even flush fixtures in some large scale settings. It’s important to note that larger scale retail projects tend to be more suitable due to the higher volume of water typically present.

Manufacturing and Production Facilities

Manufacturing and production plants often consume significant volumes of water for processes, cooling, and also cleaning purposes. This can be substantially offset when a project presents a potentially significant volume of rainwater, stormwater, and even manufacturing process water itself, for storage and treatment with a water harvesting skid. In such cases, some facilities can reduce potable water consumption to such an extent, that companies realize a substantial reduction in overall production and operations costs from water efficiency alone.

K-12 and Higher Education Buildings

From secondary and high schools to universities and colleges, the education sector offers some of the most practical scenarios for efficient implementation of water harvesting systems. Schools and campuses often have numerous buildings on large area sites, which lend themselves to rainwater, stormwater, groundwater and condensate capture, as well as greywater capture from residential dormitories. As with the categories above, treated water can significantly reduce potable water use for irrigation, toilet flushing, and any other non-potable applications on site, while contributing to any Sustainability and ESG goals which may be in play. Moreover, some water harvesting systems can offer public-facing touchscreen displays with operational metrics, and institutions can incorporate water harvesting into their curricula, to educate students about the importance of water conservation and other sustainable practices.

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