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Water Management Makes A Difference For Healthcare


Efficient water management for hospitals means more dollars for patient care. Patients wanting the best care is often determined by the people and the environment. A Southern U.S. hospital found that eco-friendly facilities play an important role in a patient’s view of high-quality care and treatment. The challenge for most hospitals is balancing front-end costs that often come at a premium for being a green business. When this Southern hospital was considering the influence and design of their grounds in patient recovery, they identified a low-cost measure for an operational project in water efficiency for their landscaping that would contribute to the funding of major green capital improvements.

More hospitals are starting to address water consumption as shortages and droughts become more common, and water rates are rising annually between 5-10% in many parts of the country. The average American uses about 110 gallons of water a day. By comparison, U.S. hospitals are using on average 570 gallons daily per staffed bed. While hospital water use supports a number of vital functions ranging from the HVAC system and process cooling to sterilization and sanitation, water conservation is an emerging risk-management strategy for healthcare facilities facing greater demands to forecast their operating costs. Water efficiency is ultimately tied to a hospital’s mandate for promoting and maintaining human wellness, and by extension, the health of the environment.

Determining a successful water reduction plan starts with collecting and analyzing available data, agreeing on the metrics of measurement and then considering the ROI of possible solutions. This drives a water-savings strategy that starts with the most cost-effective solutions and progresses in time to more complex ones. In the summer of 2014, the Southern hospital identified such an opportunity in converting from standard to smart irrigation. Within the first 60 days of retrofitting their existing controllers to connect to the cloud for irrigation scheduling, the hospital cut their outdoor water costs in half entirely. It was a remarkable green success, with bottom-line cost savings, multiple-ROI benefit and efficiencies for sustainable long-term operations that gained widespread support among staff to continue with other water conservation measures.

Healthy Savings

Once the ETwater smart irrigation service was approved by the hospital for testing, its HermitCrab smart controllers (the only product of its kind on the market that can retrofit an existing standard sprinkler timer within minutes to become an automated weather-based irrigation controller) were rapidly deployed within a day. Following the effective take over of the watering schedule for the entire site by ETwater, the table of results for the five months July through November 2014 shows a substantial savings of over 5.5 million gallons of potable water. Tracked through independent irrigation meters, and allowing for seasonality that includes a traditional shutdown of all irrigation January through April annually, the hospital is on track for cutting in excess of 60% their average historical water usage average. Their outdoor water bill has consequently been more than halved for significant net savings on its expense over prior years.

Treating The Problem Not The Symptom

ETwater gives the hospital direct access into the performance of its entire irrigation system, where before they had to rely on manual estimates and equipment. They now have visibility and a wealth of insights into their water use that wasn’t possible previously. With the nature of severe storms the Southern states can get in July and August, weather-based smart irrigation immediately made water savings for the hospital. ETwater used the rainfall in those months to offset the amount that had to applied to meet the landscapes total water needs. And on multiple occasions, automatic suspension for rain forecast preempted potential damages to the grounds and facilities from overwatering.

The technology solution for irrigation management the hospital found in ETwater is enabling the complete elimination of all water waste on their landscaping through a suite of services that can manage improvements in the irrigation design, with the ability to rollout infrastructure improvements through centralized control of the site, accessible from any computer, Smartphone or tablet. Because irrigation controllers were located across considerable physical distances across the hospital’s grounds, ETwater was used to perform a mass change of the entire property’s watering schedules at once, including customization to meet the actual water needs of all the different plant materials that make up the hospital’s landscaping.

A Healthy Outlook For The Future

Within the ETwater solution is a simulation program for modeling water efficiencies, such as estimating savings in the water needs of alternate landscape designs that would come from changes to more drought-tolerant and native plant species. The hospital’s landscape management company routinely runs simulations in side-by-side comparisons to the existing irrigation schedule for optimizing performance and discovery. The success of this low-cost measure that was taken on irrigation, which saved water and money immediately for the hospital, has become a case in point for that continued investment in water conservation can provide them healthy returns.

How Much Can You Save?

To find out if your hospital or healthcare facility qualifies for equally impressive savings, please call 1-888-685-5505 extension 1 to schedule a complimentary review from an ETwater irrigation expert.

Want to get a sample of ETwater’s reporting capabilities and get insight into how the ETscore irrigation efficiency rating is calculated? Complete the form below to download your sample.

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Richard Restuccia

Richard is a water management evangelist. He believes passionately in water efficiency and sees the financial and social benefits far too often to keep a secret. Richard is a spokesperson at industry events and on the Hill to provide direction and insight on landscape water management best practices. Richard puts his words into action through service on various boards and committees. He served on the Irrigation Association's Board of Directors and is a University of California Master Gardener. Richard also writes for other publications and is an award winning contributor to Lawn & Landscape Magazine. In 2014 his efforts were recognized with a “Leadership in Landscape” award. He has a great interest in the supply of clean water for people in developing countries and as an outdoorsman, spends his free time running, swimming and surfing.

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