Commercial, Industrial, Institutional
The commercial, industrial, and institutional (CII) sector is the most diverse collection of water users in the urban environment. This customer category includes retail, grocery, office buildings, hotels and motels, schools, universities, car washes, manufacturing, and many other types of customers. End uses of water in this sector vary widely by industry and by individual facility.
Saving water should be front of mind for facility managers, for many reasons. From a financial standpoint, using less water will save the facility money on water bills. While there may be an initial upfront cost, e.g. the cost of purchasing high-efficiency toilets to replace outdated models, the costs will likely be recouped as the facility’s water bills go down. Such actions often reduce not only water usage and costs but energy usage and costs as well. For example, if a restaurant installs faucet aerators that reduce the amount of hot water needed for a given task, the energy cost of heating water will also be reduced. There is a clear financial case for implementing water conservation and efficiency measures for nearly every CII facility.
Saving water makes financial sense, but it is also the socially and ecologically responsible choice. Reducing water consumption in a utility’s service area helps delay or prevent the need for construction of additional water infrastructure, which can be expensive and damaging to the environment. Reducing water consumption protects water supply for future needs and helps maintain environmental flows, i.e. keeps water in aquifers, rivers, and streams where it meets the needs of flora and fauna and provides spiritual and recreational benefits. For public-facing CII water users, improving water efficiency indicates to customers that the facility is committed to their social responsibility.
The US EPA publication WaterSense at Work: Best Management Practices for Commercial and Institutional Facilities provides further reading and guidance on improving water efficiency in CII facilities.
The City Energy Project's Water Audit Guidance for Commercial Buildings is another valuable resource.