Water management improvements
The first step to improving water efficiency is to understand current performance. By tracking water use alongside energy use, building and site management can better understand how these resources relate to each other, make integrated management decisions that increase overall efficiency and verify savings from improvement projects in both energy and water systems. Facilities that manage water and energy performance together can take advantage of this relationship to create greener, more sustainable buildings.
Our goal for 2011 was to determine how to track water consumption at TELUS. Just as we report the electricity consumption at our owned Canadian properties, we will now be reporting the water consumption at these properties. Accordingly, our total consumption for 2011 for these properties was 1,056,226 cubic meters which represents water consumption at approximately 75 per cent of our square footage. In 2012, as TELUS begins to develop a water management strategy, we expect this reported metric may increase in future years as we improve water metering in some regions of the country. This will also allow us to report an additional number of our Canadian properties. We are also working with our international property managers to determine if we will have the systems in place to report water consumption at those properties.
In 2011, TELUS established water efficiency guidelines with the intention to conserve potable water and to provide minimum standards for water efficiency at TELUS facilities. The guidelines are for indoor-plumbing alterations, renovations, modifications and upgrades at all TELUS sites. TELUS is committed to reducing flow rates below plumbing code standards whenever possible. When conducting the retrofits, building and site management will identify local porcelain recyclers to strive to ensure that any materials removed from the site as part of a renovation, remodel or replacement will not be sent to a landfill.
For new TELUS buildings, we now aim for LEED certification which requires a reduction in the use of potable water for an entire building by at least 30 per cent compared to the LEED baseline flow rates for fixtures.
Our LEED Gold certified TELUS House Toronto location features dual flush toilets (6L/4.2L per flush), half-flow urinals (1.9L per flush) and low-flow lavatory faucets (1.9 Litres per minute) with automatic shut-off to maximize water efficiency.
To further reduce potable water use, our TELUS House Toronto location captures rainwater from the roof, terrace and podium area for use as grey water in flushing water closets and urinals in the washrooms up to the 10th floor of the building. This is possible due to a large rainwater collection cistern (150m³) located in the parking garage.
Outdoor water use
TELUS is not a large water consumer, however we understand that improved landscaping practices can dramatically reduce and even eliminate irrigation needs at our properties. Maintaining or reestablishing native plants on building sites fosters a self-sustaining landscape that requires minimal supplemental water and provides other environmental benefits. Native landscaping can reduce the amount of water needed for irrigation and attract native wildlife, thus creating a building site integrated with its natural surroundings. In addition, native plants tend to require less fertilizer and pesticides, preventing water quality degradation and other negative environmental impacts.
In addition to water-efficient landscaping, building and site managers will consider implementing high-efficiency irrigation technologies, such as micro-irrigation, moisture sensors or weather data-based controllers. Irrigation systems can use captured rainwater, grey water (on-site or municipal), municipally reclaimed water or on-site treated wastewater. Not operating an irrigation system is also an option.
Much of the water supplied to commercial buildings is used as a heat transfer medium for chillers. As a result, a comprehensive water management program is essential to ensure the efficient use of water. In addition to reducing the amount of water used, implementing water efficiency measures will cut energy consumption by limiting the amount of water that must be treated, heated, cooled and distributed. These factors will be considered as our water management strategy is developed.