Most laboratory buildings in our country use significantly more water per square foot than standard commercial buildings do, primarily to meet their larger cooling and process loads. The potential for water savings through cost-effective improvements whenever possible will help create a more sustainable laboratory.

Laboratories often use 100 percent outside air for ventilation which means that cooling a laboratory is more energy intensive. Approximately 30-60 percent of all water use in multipurpose labs is for cooling. This is why cooling towers offer the largest single opportunity for water efficiency change in most labs. The concentration ratio (CR) or cycles of concentration in the cooling tower is the indication of how many times the water is circulated before it is bled off and discharged. According Water Efficiency Guide for Laboratories, increasing the CR from 2 to 5 yields almost 85 percent of the savings that can be obtained. Installing conductivity and flow meters on make-up and bleed-off lines is a second method that can be implemented to monitor for leaks or draw-offs by detecting discrepancies between the ratios of conductivity of the make-up water and bleed-off to that of the ratio between the bleed-off flow to make-up flow. If these two ratios do not match it means there is dead weight/loss occurring in the system.

Cooling laboratory equipment is another area in which water efficiency can often be improved. Single-pass systems use approximately 40 times more water than a cooling tower operating at 5 cycles of concentration to remove the same heat load. Single pass cooling typically consumes more water than any other cooling method in laboratories. The alternative is a closed system, which could replace the single-pass cooling system by including a cooling loop. This loop provides water at a preset temperature to cool researchers’ equipment. More can be seen here at the I2SL Toolkit.

Other laboratory equipment requires rinsing which can be quite water intensive whether it is used through a lab dishwasher or a sink. Running the washing equipment when only at full capacity can help reduce water use and save money, but there are other ways to incorporate savings with a washing unit such as: share washing equipment with other labs to save space and promote efficiency, Use newer, cleaner rinsing detergents, reduce the number of rinse cycles whenever possible, and installing newer washing units which are less water intensive as older models. The rinsing operation can become even more efficient through a counter-rinsing method: where the flow of rinse water is opposite to that of workflow. The idea is to use the cleanest water for the final stages of the rinse operation.

For lab equipment that is continuously “on” using a control or solenoid valve allows water to flow only when the unit is being used. Shut-off valves and timers can also be used to turn off equipment after work hours or when they are not being used.

Installing sink aerators is one of the simplest ways to effectively reduce water consumption. In labs, this means removing any tubing and barb attachments from faucets, screwing in a sink aerator, and replacing the tubing (used to fill containers and eliminate splash), and securing it with a clamp. This process can reduce water use by up to 50 percent.

Benefits

  • Further improving your company’s footprint through water usage
  • Further increasing water efficiency for good public relations
  • Improving processes and productivity by re-examining current systems
  • Reduction in heating and cooling costs
  • Minimize loss due to leaks and inefficiencies
  • Reduce disposal wastewater cost

Who Can Help

Waldner Laboratory Systems

WALDNER Laboreinrichtungen GmbH & Co. KG is a company of the WALDNER Group, which employs approximately 1,350 employees worldwide. We have developed and produced laboratory furniture for all applications in Wangen im Allgäu for more than 60 years.

WaterSense Label

WaterSense labeled products are backed by independent, third–party testing and certification, and meet EPA’s specifications for water efficiency and performance

Energy Star

ENERGY STAR is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) voluntary program that helps businesses and individuals save money and protect our climate through superior energy efficiency.

Case Studies & Resources:

Resources

Water Efficiency Guide for Laboratories

This guide to water efficiency is one in a series of best practices for laboratories. It was produced by Laboratories for the 21st Century (“Labs 21”), a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Geared toward architects, engineers, and facility managers, these guides provide information about technologies and practices to use in designing, constructing, and operating safe, sustainable, high-performance laboratories.

The EPA Water Science Resources

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a database of useful resources regarding drinking water and water systems, water quality research, water monitoring and water tools and technology.

WaterSense

WaterSense, a partnership program by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, seeks to protect the future of our nation’s water supply by offering people a simple way to use less water with water-efficient products, new homes, and services.

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)

This page includes best management practice of laboratory and medical equipment concentrating on operation and maintenance along with retrofit and replacement options.

Energy Efficient Laboratory Equipment Wiki

This website collects energy data on laboratory equipment with four goals:

  1. Give researchers purchasing information to select the most efficient equipment
  2. Give researchers information to use existing equipment with the least energy
  3. Stimulate manufacturers to supply efficient equipment
  4. Give laboratory designers realistic estimates of power consumption for different types of equipment.

Case Studies

The Water Miser Case Study

The San Diego Interfaith Housing Foundation (SDIHF) builds and manages affordable housing units throughout San Diego County. In their search for finding a sustainable solution to reducing energy, water use ,and costs, they found Watermiser’s Flow Control Valves (FCV’s) for faucets and showers. SDIHF has seen reduction of water consumption of between 8% and 20%. In addition to reduced water consumption, SDIHF is also benefiting from lower sewer bills and energy savings.

The University of California San Francisco Pipette Wash Rack Case Study

This case study compares the difference in water usage of a Nalgene system to that of the pipette wash racks. The savings between the two amount to over 11 million gallons of water and $51,000 per year.

Resources

“Best Management Practice #12: Laboratory and Medical Equipment.” Energy.gov   Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. U.S. Department of Energy, n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2015. <http://energy.gov/eere/femp/best-management-practice-12-laboratory-and-medical-equipment&gt;.

“Energy Efficient Laboratory Equipment Wiki.” Energy Efficient Laboratory Equipment. Labs for the 21st Century, 27 Jan. 2012. Web. 19 Sept. 2015.           <http://labs21.lbl.gov/wiki/equipment/index.php/Energy_Efficient_Laboratory_Equipment_Wiki&gt;.

Energy Star. EPA, n.d. Web. <https://www.energystar.gov/&gt;.

Hartman, Brandon. “How Can You save 11 Million Gallons and $51,000 a Year? Switch to Pipette Wash Racks!” (n.d.): n. pag. UCSF. Web.           <http://campuslifeservices.ucsf.edu/upload/sustainability/files/Pipette_Washing_Racks_flyerFINALv2.pdf&gt;.

Steris Life Sciences. Steris Corporation, n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2015. <http://www.sterislifesciences.com/&gt;.

Interfaith Housing Assistance Corporation San Diego Interfaith Housing Foundation (n.d.): n. pag. Watermiser. Watermiser, 3 May 2013. Web.           <http://www.watermiser.com/filebin/pdf/Watermiser_Case_Study_Interfaith_Housing.pd f>.

Waldner Laboratory Systems. Waldner Corporate Group, n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2015. <http://www.waldner-lab.de/en/home.aspx&gt;.

“Water Efficiency Guide for Laboratories.” (n.d.): n. pag. Laboratories for the 21st Century: Best Practices.. The United States Environmental Protection Agency. Web. <http://www.i2sl.org/documents/toolkit/bp_water_508.pdf&gt;.

“Water Science Resources.” EPA United States Environmental Protection Agency. EPA, n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2015. <http://www2.epa.gov/science-and-technology/water-science-resources&gt;.

Water Sense. The United States Environmental Protection Agency, n.d. Web. 19 Sept.  2015. <http://www.epa.gov/watersense/index.html&gt;.