Building Magazine


New report shows differences in water use between urban and suburban office buildings

The Real Property Association of Canada (REALpac) released a report titled, Water Management: A Benchmark for Canadian Office Buildings, which identified a potential Best Practice Range for water use in office buildings using real building data. Authored by Jon Morton, principal at Morton Jagodich Incorporated, this report outlines a simple process to monitor, measure, and manage water consumption in commercial office buildings for comparison with the proposed Best Practice Range. However, the report also shows significant variability between suburban office buildings (with landscaping needing watering) and urban buildings with no landscaping. The report also shows the breakdown of consumption between domestic uses and building operations uses, and suggests potential avenues for water use reduction. The report may lead REALpac to develop a normalization methodology for water consumption, and an annual water consumption survey, to enable comparisons between different types of buildings, urban and suburban.

“REALpac is very pleased to introduce the Best Practice Range and recommendations for water use to the Canadian commercial real estate industry. Building owners and managers will now be able to evaluate and compare their own buildings’ water performance and to implement programs to encourage and achieve water use reductions within their buildings,” said Michael Brooks, CEO of REALpac.

Data analysis indicated that a building’s square footage had the strongest correlation with total water consumption, which resulted in a recommended metric of litres per square foot per year (L/ft2/yr). Analysis of the office water consumption data led to a recommended Best Practice Range based on the percentile ranking of the buildings.  From this ranking, a Best Practice Range of 12 to 50 L/ft2/yr was established, which is comparable to existing metrics found in other jurisdictions around the world.

This preliminary study will be used as a starting point in understanding commercial office water use. REALpac intends to continue data collection and will begin the establishment of a larger, Canada-wide database in Q4 2011.

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