Water conservation & efficiency in hospitals

Hospital rooftops make ideal collecting surfaces for rainwater harvesting and there is usually ample space for installing large water tanks – 10000 litre tanks, 15000 litre tanks or even 20000 litre tanks, connected in series results in substantial water storage. The article below outlines more conventional means of saving water but hospitals and other institutions with suitable rooftops should really consider rainwater harvesting as an option. Hospitals in rural areas where water supply is unreliable, would also benefit in having back-up rain water tanks installed.

jojo water tanks

Hospital buildings have ideal surfaces for collecting rainwater and space for placing large water tanks

Developing water efficiency in hospitals can be compared to many many water efficiency measures implemented in both the commercial and domestic / catering environment though in many cases scaled up.

This, though being a larger task, can make the job simpler to cost and manage as savings can be more readily seen and ongoing administration can be built into an existing process rather than developed from scratch.

Toilets and Urinals

Toilets are an obvious area for water saving measures, replacement of single with dual flush toilet cisterns will save multiple litres per flush depending on the system installed.

Urinals can be readily converted to waterless with an immediate saving in both water use and ongoing waste pipe maintenance, in particular in hard water areas where urine and flushing with “hard water” can lead to scale buildup. Waterless urinals are hygenic and can present a lower odour than the normal flushing type.

The Boiler room

With a large establishment there is the opportunity for steam / condensate recovery. Modern systems will almost certainly incorporate this technology though where steam is vented as part of the boiler / heating process. Not only is heat energy being lost but also potentially large volumes of water.

Steam loss can be reduced through system monitoring and maintenance.

Catering and Cleaning

A simple installation that will save considerable amounts of water is installation of foot operated taps in areas where wash water – under a running tap -is normally used. This will immediately remove the waste of water from a tap left to run unattended and can very quickly pay for the plumbing work.

An alternative is to install spray heads such that the operator holds the spray function on. This can make cleaning / rinsing easier unless both hands need to be used.

An internal Water Audit by staff can invariably identify other areas of water saving simply by taking a commonsense view and looking at regular water use. In particular hot water use where both water and energy can be saved.

Simple advice that equally applies to the domestic environment applies:

  • Dish washers should only be used with full loads
  • On replacing equipment, actively look at water and energy consumption when making a choice. Often the cheaper option has higher running costs. Consider the lifetime cost.
  • Any hose should always have a pistol grip end so that it only runs when being used.

Water Audit, Water Management and Water Monitoring

Ensure that a member of staff has responsibility within their job description for efficient and effective use of water. This should include monitoring and record keeping of water use.

Consider a formal water audit, in particular for large establishments to establish that water being purchased matches the water being used. Where there is a campus with distinct buildings, submetering each building can assist in identifying leaks in particular within the various supply pipes. With an older establishment, the chances of a series of supply pipe leaks can be high.

A Water Utility might expect 10% leakage within its supply pipe network. With a hospital water budget, for each £100,000 spent on water, a 10% leakage rate will of course represent £10,000 wasted! This will then be doubled when considering sewerage costs.

Monitoring Water Consumption

With a large organisation, water bills will normally be monthly. This will provide both cost and consumption information. The simplest way to start to monitor this is to prepare a spreadsheet showing monthly consumption along with a simple bar graph.

This will clearly indicate any change over time. What it won’t show is any long term leakage.

A commonsense view of what water is used and what you know has been purchased will indicate where there might be a problem. In the event that the figures don’t ‘add up’ a more formal water audit will be needed.

Source: Waterlink

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