On October 20th, 2022, an Asheville-based affordable housing developer selected one of its newest and greenest multifamily communities to undergo a water efficiency improvement experiment with an innovative company that specializes in maximizing efficiency for high water volume users by better controlling how water is delivered to their facilities.
The water management company contracted a local plumbing group to install their triple-patented mechanical valve that utilizes hydrostatic pressure between private and public water utility systems to equalize backpressure and improve how effectively the water enters the owner’s building where it’s metered by the city’s water utility company. Because the affordable housing owner includes the water utility cost as part of the monthly rental for all residents, the master water meter bill and subsequent sewer charges (sewer bills are calculated by the same metered water volume used but at a much higher rate) are the sole responsibility of the building ownership.
With the recent news that Asheville intends to drastically raise water and sewer rates, the developer tried this innovative hydro-efficient-technology to counteract the ever-volatile rate increases at this 95-unit asset. In the future, they intend to implement it at several other properties in their portfolio as well.
The water management company claimed their product and service could provide the multifamily developer with a 15% reduction in water volume usage without adversely affecting psi or flow rate. This is achieved through specialized technology, project management, and calibration service, all backed by a no-risk 120-Day Efficiency Guarantee. If this reduction is not achieved, they promise to refund the entire project investment, including the cost to remove their device and restore the pipes to their original state.
The installation only took four hours, which included: verifying what water pressure the building was receiving before the pressure reducing valve, shutting off the city water supply, cutting out a section of the three-inch diameter CPVC cold water supply pipe beyond the backflow preventer, and draining down the building. After installation, they recorded weekly meter readings and took steps to optimize water usage. Before installation, the water usage was 14.48 CCFs used per day. 180 Days post install, water usage was down to an average of 8.17 CCFs used per day. This amounts to 190 CCFs saved monthly after 180 days, or savings of $19,100 and 1,705,440 gallons of water each year!
The developer initially set out to reduce their property-wide monthly usage baseline by 15%, but the device exceeded expectations with a 43.5% reduction in water usage, all without a single complaint from the community residents or management staff for six months under normal operations. The developer/owner is currently evaluating other affordable home communities within their portfolio at which to install the technology from this single pilot program.
In conjunction with the owners accelerated return on investment — that is set to deliver in approximately 13 months — the energy advisors involved with the case study are pursuing state and federal tax credits and other earmarked funds on the ownership’s behalf for implementing this water efficiency improvement.
Sally Maher is a former educator who happily made Asheville her family’s home in 2021. She is Operations Director for Exactwater’s eastern region, promoting water efficiency to reduce water and sewer operating expenses for commercial, and industrial entities. They focus on multifamily properties, hotels, and breweries across the United States and Canada. Learn more at www.exactwater.com.