Our Approach: For the better part of the past decade, viewing water as a precious resource has been one of our most significant concerns. We operate throughout the Sun Belt and our commitment to pragmatically reducing our water consumption is strong. We are convinced that the importance of improving water conservation will only be increasing in the years to come. Therefore, we vigorously engage in a range of water conservation initiatives. In virtually every office building, we have installed water-conserving sinks and toilets. Across our office portfolio we have pursued a range of innovative best practices aimed at driving better water performance: smart irrigation systems, groundwater, storm water, and condensate water reclamation projects, improved metering, water challenges, and water conservation management programs.
Using both the EPA’s Portfolio Manager program as well as the LEED certification process has helped provide us with a framework for collecting water data and highlighting opportunities for water conservation improvements. As of 2014 year-end, we now have 100% of our office portfolio using either LEED (for A buildings) or the Portfolio Manager program for their water initiatives. Going forward, this will provide us with a comprehensive reporting platform for our office properties and allow key comparative analyses.
- Smart irrigation systems include smart controllers, timers, moisture sensors, and drop irrigation.
- Water conserving sinks and toilets include low gpf toilets and urinals, hands-free sinks, and low gpm faucets.
- Stormwater, condensate, or groundwater reclamation systems include piping, drain, pump, and filtration systems to receover, clean, and reuse water.
Gateway Village Groundwater Reclamation
At Gateway Village in Charlotte NC, groundwater is collected through a subsurface curtain drain system. This prevents hydraulic pressure on the slab and footings. This groundwater was found to have chlorinated solvents and petroleum constituents in it and therefore in order to comply with local regulations, the ground water had to be treated to be discharged. This presented us with a challenge and an opportunity for innovation. Rather than simply treat and discharge the water, we decided to explore water conservation options. In August 2011, we implemented a smart but simple process to treat the contaminated ground water using multi-stage filtration and UV disinfection for sanitizing the water without the use of harsh chemicals – and then we used the water as our cooling tower makeup water! Since then, this system has provided 98% of our total makeup water for 600 tons of cooling capacity – averaging over 3.4 million gallons each year since 2011 (and nearly 4 million gallons in 2014). In addition to the environmental benefit of eliminating the need to pull this water from the Charlotte municipal system, it has also saved us $18,750 each year, provided redundancy back-up water for the neighboring Gateway building cooling tower, and inspired our associates with the problem solving challenge.
“I’m proud to be part of a company culture that encourages creative thinking in support of our sustainability efforts.“
Matt McDonald, Property Manager Gateway Village – Cousins Properties
Turning Condensate Into Valuable Water
Our One Ninety One Peachtree building in Atlanta was built in 1988 and its original design for dealing with condensate from air handling units (AHU’s) was leading edge at the time. The design discharged all condensate from the AHU’s into an express drain riser or independent drain line that ran from the top of the building to the third floor central plant area, where it drained into the city’s waste line. The building operated in this manner until August of 2013, when our engineering group was determined to create a breakthrough. The result is an entirely new system that has achieved significant water conservation. Engineered and designed by Cousins Properties Engineering, we now intercept the condensate line in the central plant and route this water into a 500-gallon storage vessel. From there the captured condensate is pumped into the building’s 24-inch primary condenser water return line on the third floor, which in turn feeds this water up to the 54th floor cooling towers. A total of 290,500 gallons of condensate has been recovered and used as cooling tower makeup water in the 16 months since the unit went into service in August 2013.