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Long-established methods of pre-commissioning cleaning and ongoing water treatment are heavily reliant on large volumes of water and chemicals, with sampling and consultants the mainstay of understanding system condition. Wasteful and leaving FMs in the dark, Steven Booth, Managing Director of Guardian Water Treatment, says ‘there is another way’, with the latest water treatment solutions enabling FMs to save money and resources, while improving their environmental credentials.
Buildings are becoming ever more intelligent, with environmental factors such as lighting, fire & security systems, and energy usage routinely monitored through centralised Building Management Systems. In comparison, the management of water systems has fallen behind; traditional sampling can often be misleading, resulting in the overuse of chemical treatments and huge volumes of water wasted through over-flushing, impacting both the environment and the bottom-line.
While flushing and chemical treatments cannot be completely eradicated, by applying the real-time monitoring model to a water system, a more efficient and sustainable result can be achieved.
The case for continuous monitoring as opposed to sampling is at the heart of sustainable water management, putting FMs back in the driving seat and facilitating fit for purpose treatment, as and when is needed. Using a remote system, such as Hevasure, accurate readings of a wide range of parameters; including oxygen, pressure, temperature, corrosion, PH, conductivity and inhibitor levels; can be delivered direct to the FM’s in-box, providing a true picture of the condition of a water system at any stage of its life.
Compared with sampling, monitoring ensures maintenance regimes that are preventative rather than corrective, avoiding expensive repairs and downtime, as well as the unnecessary usage of chemicals. For example, certain issues identified through monitoring would not be flagged up by traditional sampling, such as changes in pressure, which could indicate a small leak in the system, a problem that could easily be repaired, often by in-house teams.
Waiting for the results of a laboratory sample may be a case of too little, too later. Oxygen ingress and consequent bacterial growth may already be excessive resulting in the need for high volumes of inhibitor to combat corrosion and operational inefficiencies. For FMs working in high pressure critical infrastructure environments, such as data centres, the knock-on effect of reacting too slowly could be disastrous, with costs running into the millions.
Alongside monitoring, sustainability can be further improved using the latest technologies:
FMs first get involved with a water system at handover, following pre-commissioning cleaning - the standard and necessary requirement of all new closed-circuit water installations. Designed to ensure a system is clean and efficient while preventing corrosion further down the line, if not carried out effectively, the FM may be left with on-going problems. In terms of sustainability, it leaves a lot to be desired, accounting for half of all water usage during construction.
By making direct improvements to the efficiency of this process, large-volumes of water and chemicals can be saved. High flow filtration solutions allow for a reduction in water volume, while still complying with the BSRIA guidelines. As well as using less water, this process is also much faster than traditional flushing, cutting cleaning times and saving on labour costs. Reducing flushing also better-preserves pipework integrity as the flushing process itself can cause degradation and corrosion.
Flushing can also take place when changes are made to the system. In-line filtration is a good alternative treatment here, retaining existing water in the system. As well as saving many thousands of litres of new water, this process preserves the chemical balance, maintaining the existing corrosion inhibitor and eliminating the need for the chemicals to replenish the system.
Unlike flushing, which provides only one chance to eliminate bacteria, during In-line filtration treatment can be monitored and adjusted over a period of 3-4 weeks as indicated by real-time readings.
In addition to utilising monitoring to ensure fit for purpose maintenance, chemical usage can also be reduced by exploring non-chemical alternatives, such as Advance Oxygenation Technology (AOT); a process which combines specific light frequencies with photocatalytic surfaces to create free radicals that break down destructive micro-organisms and harmful pollutants in the water. As these exist only for a fraction of a second, there is no possibility of causing pollution or wider environmental harm, making it a great option for FMs taking steps to reduce their building’s environmental impact.
It is worth noting that the use of AOT does not eliminate the need for chemicals; biocide washing is still highly recommended and a final dose of biocide dosing on completion is essential, however it does create the best possible conditions for a successful cleaning program going forward.
Savings across the board
Buildings are a huge drain on our resources, and as such, FMs have a moral responsibility to commit to better environmental practices. A deeper understanding of water and plant conditions will enable the sector to make more environmentally friendly decisions, particularly during fit-out and handover stages when disruption is common. If these innovative practices were adopted across the board, the impact would be significant.
Guardian is a certified partner of Hevasure, which provides 24/7 real-time monitoring of HVAC water system condition. For more information, visit: www.gwtltd.com.
What’s wrong with sampling?
While sampling has its place and is a necessary part of meeting the BSRIA guidelines, it is not a full-proof solution. In Guardian’s opinion it should not be used as the sole source of understanding system conditions for the following reasons:
- Sampling only represents a snap shot in time
- It is open to interpretation
- Results can take days if not weeks to return
- Oxygen, the root cause of all corrosion issues, is hard to check through sampling
- The focus is bacteria and dissolved metals, which only demonstrates one part of the picture – the end result of poor water system conditions, rather than the cause.