Protect properties from climate risks with smart water management


Our industry is engaged in an important dialogue to improve sustainability through ESG transparency and industry collaboration. This article is a contribution to this larger conversation and does not necessarily reflect GRESB’s position.

Three ways to make properties more sustainable and resilient with water management

1. Use alternative water sources

When drought hits, mandatory water reductions and savings mandates often go into effect. A smart way to limit freshwater consumption is to use alternative water sources such as captured rainwater, recycled water, pond or reservoir water, and water that’s been treated onsite.

Capturing rainwater involves collecting run-off rainfall from rooftops into gutters and channeling water into storage vessels such as rain barrels or large cisterns. This recycled water can then be used for outdoor irrigation or indoor non-potable uses, reducing a property’s overall freshwater usage.

A rainwater harvesting system can collect, filter, divert, store, and distribute water in a landscape. Doing so eases the strain on municipal water supplies, reduces risk of flooding, and fights erosion and contamination. Using reclaimed water whenever available is an excellent way for buildings to save on water costs and protect their properties and the environment.

2. Switch to smart irrigation

Outdoor water use in the U.S. averages more than 9 billion gallons per day, with much of that going to landscape irrigation. Up to 50% of that daily 9 billion gallons is wasted through overwatering and inefficient irrigation (Source: EPA WaterSense).

Smart irrigation attempts to combat that waste by tailoring watering schedules and run times to the specific landscape. Smart controllers monitor weather, soil conditions, evaporation, rainfall, temperature, plant water use, and other site-specific factors, and then adjust watering schedules accordingly.

Smart irrigation helps properties rise to meet the challenges of drought and climate change, since controllers cut off water the moment it’s no longer needed, reducing water waste and harmful nutrient and water runoff.

3. Prioritize green infrastructure

Green infrastructure considers the natural environment and its ecological functions when planning urban land use. Implementing green infrastructure can help properties conserve water, improve asset value, and fight the impacts of climate change.

Some examples of green infrastructure in buildings include green roofs, living walls, and rain gardens. Properties that invest in green infrastructure often experience benefits such as cost reductions in water, heating, air conditioning, and air purification.

Infrastructure like green roofs can even increase the property value of commercial buildings, particularly in urban areas where green space is scarce. Green roofs are a great example of green infrastructure that conserve water and reduce climate risks by absorbing stormwater and preventing hazardous runoff in surrounding areas.

While our rapidly changing climate poses significant risks to water sources and infrastructure across the globe, there are strategies to mitigate the damage done to properties by extreme weather events. Smart water management isn’t a cure-all, but it’s certainly a good start.

This article was written by Lila Tyler, Marketing Content Manager, at HydroPoint Data Systems.