In recent years, water has become a scarce resource throughout the United States, especially in the Southeast where droughts are an ongoing issue. With water in short supply and growing customer demand, one municipality, Cobb County Water System in Georgia, partnered with Niagara Conservation, manufacturer of high-efficiency water and energy conservation products, to deliver Green City Cobb Program. The program provides multi-family building owners and their residents with the ability to save millions of gallons of water each year while dramatically lowering their utility bills and increasing property value by retrofitting key existing plumbing fixtures with new ultra-high-efficiency models at no upfront costs.
One of the driest states in the country is Georgia where much of the land has been classified as being under “exceptional drought” in recent years — the highest level recorded. Today Cobb County and the greater Atlanta area are still considered to be at risk of water shortage. As a result, property managers and local municipalities in the area are seeking ways to help their community by reducing water consumption and lowering the overhead expenses associated with their water and sewerage usage. The Green City Cobb Program, managed by Niagara Conservation, was launched last year in an effort to address this ongoing issue and make a positive impact in the area’s water consumption.
“We are committed to saving water and energy while helping our customers reduce their utility bills through sustainable practices,” noted Kathy Nguyen, Cobb County Water System, senior project manager. “We believe the Green City program provides the ideal win-win, low-cost solution for our local multi-family building owners and all of the partners who have helped to bring this program to life,” Nguyen continued.
Together Niagara Conservation and Cobb County Water System approached the management at Edinborough Apartments, at 300 Pat Mel Road, in Marietta with an opportunity to conserve water and save on costs for their 128 unit community.
Installation of Niagara’s UHET Water-Saving Kits
In September 2014, nearly 130 water-saving UHET Kits from Niagara Conservation were installed throughout the property. The three-part kit includes the ultra-high-efficiency Stealth toilet, Earth™ Massage 1.5 gallon per minute (GPM) showerhead and a 1.5 GPM aerator for both the kitchen and bathroom faucets.
The EPA WaterSense® certified Stealth toilet is the first and only toilet available with the ability to achieve a powerful, quiet flush using just 0.8 gallons of water. Using 37 percent less water per flush than a standard 1.28 gallon high-efficiency toilet, the Stealth forces air down a transfer tube and into the trapway which allows for a powerful suction that ensures all waste in the toilet bowl is cleared out and fully into the sewer system with every flush.
Additionally, the high-efficiency, high powered Earth™ Massage 1.5 GPM showerhead uses up to 40 percent less water than other “low-flow” showerheads. Lastly, since faucets can account for nearly 16 percent of an average household’s daily water consumption, the 1.5 GPM kitchen and bath aerators completed the water saving package that is backed by a 10-year warranty.
The retrofitting was performed by an accredited Green Plumber, Nick Marine of Marine Plumbing with minimal impact to the residents over the course of six days. Since 2012, Niagara Conservation and Green Plumbers USA, an innovative organization with an accredited training program that helps plumbers to understand their evolving role in improving the environment and public health, have worked together to customize water and energy efficiency projects for the nation’s leading utilities, using eco-friendly Niagara products and certified Green Plumber Contractors.
“Installation of the UHEt Kit was quick and easy for our team which I believe says a lot about the quality and design of Niagara products,” said Nick Marine. “The combination of water-savings and easy install makes this system a great solution for water conservation issues of the future.”
Within one month of the program being in effect, the Edinborough Apartment owner reported that the property was able to save 192,000 gallons and $1,860 off their water bill in September 2014 when compared to September 2013.
“Our water bills had been increasing significantly over the past 15 years and this initiative seemed like it would be worth the effort. I always have my eye on the bottom line and the UHET Kit is saving us more each month so it’s been a good thing for us all around,” noted the owner.
The savings continued for the remainder of the year and beyond. Over the next four months, the savings on Edinborough Apartment’s water bill ranged from $574.67 to $952.58. Based on year-over-year comparisons from October 2014 to January 2015, this represents a cost reduction of between 18 percent and 26 percent. With an average monthly savings of $977 so far, the complex is on pace to save approximately $11,724 in its first year of operations.
“I did some research on Niagara, and everything I read from properties that had implemented their system gave good reports and our experience has been no different. Our water savings showcases to local multi-family operators that this small change to high-efficiency fixtures can have a big impact,” stated Robin Franklin, property manager at Edinborough Apartments. “Most importantly there have been no complaints to date; all of our residents are thrilled with the product and the installation.”