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Water efficiency gains high-performance profile

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Water efficiency figures prominently in proposed updates to the ASHRAE standard for high-performance green building design, accounting for four of eight addenda now open for public comment. It has also been explicitly referenced in the proposed expanded definition of ASHRAE 189.1’s purpose, which reflects emerging priorities and broadening perspectives on sustainability.

“The current title, purpose and scope were approved in 2006 and much has taken place in the world of green buildings in past 10 years. The purpose of the standard has been rewritten to focus on goals versus strategies,” an April 13 release from ASHRAE explains. “For example, rather than energy efficiency, the goal of reduced building emissions is proposed for inclusion in the purpose.”

Other identified goals include: enhancing occupant health and comfort; protecting local biodiversity and ecosystem services, promoting sustainable and regenerative materials cycles; and enhancing resilience to natural, technological and human-caused hazards. An additional statement clarifies that the ASHRAE 189.1 standard is intended to provide the technical basis for building codes and regulations that various jurisdictions may adopt to mandate high-performance buildings.

Water efficiency gains prominence in that context through amendments to make some formerly optional performance specifications mandatory. These include: restricting discharges from cooling towers; prohibiting most applications of potable water on golf courses, driving ranges and in ornamental fountains; recovering filter backwash water from pools and spas; plus various controls in commercial food service operations, medical and laboratory facilities.

Two other proposed addenda address water efficiency in water softeners and reverse osmosis and onsite reclaimed water systems. Meanwhile, a proposed new requirement for special-use stations for filling water bottles connected to or adjacent to indoor drinking fountains might seem to promote water consumption. However, it is calculated to reduce water loss and public health risks at water fountains and to promote alternatives to commercial bottled water in single-use plastic containers.

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