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Water Efficiency Guide for Laboratories

Most laboratory buildings use significantly more water per square foot than standard commercial buildings and significant cost-effective improvements can be made in water efficiency, especially with respect to the amount of water they use in cooling towers and for special process equipment. 

Cooling towers represent the largest single opportunity for greater water efficiency:

  • Increasing the recycle rate of the tower reduces the consumption of make-up water
  • Better monitoring and management of the water chemistry
  • Using conductivity and flow meters
  • Design for greater water efficiency using plume abatement or a hybrid tower design
  • Utilise side-stream filtration, sunlight covers, alternative water treatment systems, and automated chemical feed systems
  • Savings on water and sewer costs, savings also result from having to purchase fewer chemicals to treat the water. 

In addition water efficiency can take place in the cooling of equipment, rinsing, and flow control:

  • Combat the water waste associated with single-pass cooling is to use a process or cooling loop
  • Utilise small packaged chillers for greater water control and reduced water usage
  • Counter-current rinsing to use the cleanest water only for the final or last stages of a rinse operation, and batch processing
  • Using a control or solenoid valvet to allow water to flow only when the unit is being used

Non-specialised equipment such as laboratory water treatment, sterilization, photographic, X-ray, and vacuum systems can also benefit from implementing water efficiency processes:

  • Choose a filtration process that matches their requirements
  • Focus on water consumption for autoclaves and sterilizers which can consume large amounts of water
  • Move to digital X-ray and photography, and computerized printing to eliminate chemical and water needs for printing
  • Install a laboratory vacuum system or to employ small electric vacuum pumps to create the pressure differentials necessary for vacuum applications
  • Sterilize and recirculate water from vivariums in the watering system rather than discharge to drains

Alternative water sources:

  • Recover condensate water, which is relatively free of minerals and other solids
  • Harvest rainwater as another source for nonpotable water use
  • Reclaim wastewater for some nonpotable applications, such as cooling tower make-up

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