Green Certification: Focus Area 3 — Water

Water conservation is possibly one of the least addressed conservation matters I see. To me, water is our biggest environmental and life issue. Without accessible, clean water we have nothing. Clean drinking water is vital to life. Clean water is important in many other areas of life.

As droughts ravage the earth, human population continuing to grow, agricultural needs expanding, and manufacturing increasing, the .008% of the earth’s water that is potable — fresh and accessible — just isn’t enough.

Not today, and not in the future. You can make a difference to the global situation with your approach to water consumption, your attitude about water conservation. You’ll definitely impact your financial situation with your water conservation attitudes.

The blue marks in this inn sketch show just some of the areas where you can conserve water.
Water Conservation A Green B&B

This short list of water conserving ideas will get you started, if you haven’t started saving water already.

  • Implement a sheet and towel reuse program
  • Install low flow water fixtures
  • Use a full dishwasher instead of washing by hand
  • Repair leaky fixtures
  • Adopt low-water cleaning methods
  • Plant a native or xeric landscape
  • Install a laundry grey-water system
  • Retrofit your plumbing for a gray-water system, if allowed by law

Yes, these are obvious, and talked about a lot, but I don’t think they are used as much as they are discussed. Because they are so obvious, and probably seem so obvious, I think it makes them seem like minor impacts, and therefore unworthy of action.

Waste is the equivalent of throwing money away. Whether you believe we have water issues or not, using water unnecessarily is using money unnecessarily.

To adopt water conserving habits take it step at a time. Make a list of all of the ways you can save water. Include your staff, and even vendors, in helping you create your list of ways you can save water. Prioritize them by ease and expense. Set a schedule of how often you’ll adopt an item on your list, and then start on the first water saving activity. And, be sure to ask your guests to participate in your water conservation efforts.

Asking staff, vendors and guests to get involved not only makes the program more successful, but it attracts people who support that cause, and it educates people about options they can adopt at home and on the road. You can have a more far-reaching impact by talking about this to a wide range of people.

Here are a few quick facts about water conservation for low-cost measures:

  • By fixing a water leak you can save as much as 100 gallons/day — from one leak! Multiply that by 30 days to see more impressive savings.
  • Adopting a sheet and towel reuse program can save you about $73.00/year/guestroom in just the water savings. When you consider you are also saving energy, laundry supplies, man power, and linen replacement costs you can save up to $1.50/guestroom/day, or $547.50/guestroom/year. Is that getting your attention? It has mine.
  • Few innkeepers wash dishes by hand because of health regulations, but just in case here’s a statistic to sway you from that habit. Washing dishes by hand can use 20 gallons of water easily, while an automatic dishwasher uses only 9-12 gallons per load. Extrapolate that to fit your dishwashing habits, how much water, and money, can you save during the course of the year?

Toilets and washing machines are the two largest water consumers in your B&B. Landscaping can be a high consumer too. These are logically places to start making efforts to save water, and money.

As water fixtures and appliances wear out or break, replace them with water conserving ones. Low-flow shower heads and faucets, low-flush toilets, dishwasher, washing machines (front-loaders are more water conserving than top-loaders), and ice machines are just a few of the appliances and fixtures that you can replace to save water and money. But, only replace worn-out items, unless they are very old.

Consider these medium to high-cost water conservation measures:

  • Old toilets typically use 5 gallons per flush. The new low-flush toilets use 1.6 gallons per flush, saving you 3.4 gallons per flush. And the dual-flush toilets have a half-flush option of .8 gallons per flush. That kind of water savings adds up to respectable money savings.
  • Replace your washing machine with a front-loader, when it’s time to make that change. Front-loading washing machines use 40-75% less water than top-loaders. They are also gentler on items being washed, and use less energy and soap too.
  • If your city/county allows, install a grey-water system. The water from sinks, showers, dishwashers and washing machines can be used to water landscaping. There are also systems for washing machines that capture rinse-cycle water to use for the soaking cycle of subsequent loads.
  • Replant your high-water consuming landscaping with native and/or low-water consuming plants to save water too.

Your attitude is what guests, vendors and employees will pick up on. If you sincerely are interested in saving water, even if it’s just for the purpose of saving money, others will pick up on that. You can get more ideas about saving water from those around you. Make water conservation a team effort and win.

You can use the article Eight Areas of Focus For Green Certification as the index to access all eight green certification articles.