Water Management is an Insurance Policy

The threat of water damage to commercial buildings is an often-underestimated risk, but it’s a very real problem that facility managers must face.

Office buildings or residential and commercial complexes can be particularly vulnerable to plumbing mishaps. They have exponentially more water features than homes, and leaks can also occur in AC and other systems. Writing in Insurance Business Magazine, Douglas Barnett details the design vulnerabilities that office buildings and other facilities have to water damage:

What is more, building architecture can turn a simple leak into an expensive affair. The location of the toilets is often the same from floor to floor. That stacking design means any problem on the top floor can have repercussions in the stories below. And if all toilets are affected, the building will need to shut down during repairs.

Scaling up water system management

Water management systems should be part of the risk management toolkit for commercial facilities. The systems can act as an additional insurance policy for commercial buildings, both during construction and then throughout the life of the facility.

A common challenge is scaling up any management system to monitor what can amount to thousands of feet of plumbing as well as HVAC systems, fire sprinklers and other systems for multiple structures in a complex. At WINT, we’ve worked hard to apply advanced artificial intelligence and monitoring techniques to provide water system management at any scale.

We understand the challenges that our commercial clients face, and our goal has been to offer simple client-facing solutions powered by advanced analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) applications on the backend. If water flow patterns at a location diverge from normal, WINT units can quickly detect problems. When it comes to water damage, every second counts, so the devices can be programmed with the capability to shut off water to an area if a problem is detected.

Advantages of monitoring

Water management systems can be put in place before construction of commercial facilities is even completed, guarding against leaks that can delay the construction process or cause expensive damage. Once a commercial facility is completed, it’s especially important to be on the lookout for construction-related water issues during the first years of occupancy.

For example, a weekend water leak on the 11th floor of an insurance company’s building in Israel ended up costing the business about millions in facility damage, ruined computers and other damage. Compare that outcome to the experience of a Fortune 200 company that had installed the WINT system: Alerted to a burst pipe, the business responded quickly enough to stave off potentially millions of dollars in damage.

Water system management doesn’t have to be expensive. AI and machine learning technologies provide scalable and affordable solutions that can provide commercial facilities significant savings in water usage and repairs.


Clean Drinking Water Is Becoming a Global Problem

I’ve recently been doing some research on water scarcity, and what I’ve learned is disturbing. Access to clean drinking water is not just a third-world problem; apparently it is becoming a global challenge, regardless of location. It seems that global climate change combined with water waste and inefficient use are coming back to haunt us.

While significant efforts are being put into recycling of wastewater and into desalination plants, our best and most cost-effective bet for protecting and preserving our water supply is through better water management.

Few understand how critical water efficiency is to protecting fresh water and ensuring an ongoing supply of drinkable water, but as this crisis reaches a peak in major cities world-wide, we all must take more responsibility for implementing better water sustainability measures. And the nice thing about this is that water preservation efforts pay for themselves through lower water bills. Around 25% of water in any organization goes to waste; to prevent this loss, organizations need to monitor water usage and increase water efficiency.

Changing Climates Demand Immediate Action

Many of the cities struggling with water supply have long been dependent on natural resources. Droughts in the United States and Brazil have forced residents in major cities to rely on bottled water. Rising sea levels are impacting coastal cities like Jakarta as sea water contaminates fresh water sources, whereas other islands like Tokyo rely on rainfall that has been limited in recent months. Rivers are running dry for desert cities like Colorado and Las Vegas, and lack of snowfall in mountains like the Sierra Nevada have caused a shortage of water in the spring. Climates are shifting, and cities are seeing drastic and dangerous results. The BBC has identified these 11 major cities at risk for running out of drinking water. The number of cities at risk is expected to rise in the coming years

Pollution is a Significant Problem

Industrialization and antiquated plumbing are directly responsible for the lack of fresh water in cities like Beijing and Bangalore. Out-of-date sewage systems contaminate water to the point in which it cannot be used for agricultural purposes. Untreated agriculture and residential waste are permeating historical sources of water, like the River Nile, that civilizations have depended on for thousands of years. Moscow is 70 percent dependent on surface water, yet pollution from the industrial area has placed most drinking water reserves below sanitary standards. Water is consistently being lost as human initiatives have prioritized industrial innovation over sustaining the world’s most precious natural resource.

Cities Are Reaching Capacity

The problem of many cities lies in the sheer number of people that require fresh water. Areas like London, which are surrounded by water, are expected to be in crisis in a few years as they run out of space. Most fresh water is drawn from local rivers, but it is unlikely that supply will meet demand. This challenge of capacity is also a concern for cities that experience permanent droughts. With no local resources, the problem of supply and demand will only exacerbate itself.

Direct Human Action is Making Matters Worse

Poor water management practices are wasting drinkable water, and knowledge regarding water usage and wasteful consumption is severely lacking. Very few cities have pipeline infrastructures that preserve fresh water and prevent waste. Inefficient irrigation, damaged water appliances (leaky taps, constantly running toilets, small pipe leaks) can waste a lot of water – and a lot of money. For example:

  • Misconfigured irrigation systems can use up to 10 times the amount of water needed, wasting millions of gallons of water per year at a single facility.
  • Even in a well-maintained office building, typically 1 in 10 toilets are leaking at any given time – a potential waste of 1,00,000 gallons of water per year!

Water Sustainability is the Solution

Global demand for fresh water is exceeding supply, water sustainability is a key element of the solution. The number of deaths related to water pollution is increasing globally, and the need for outsourced water from other regions is no longer reserved for developing countries. First-world cities are having to rely on neighboring infrastructures, draining the resources of all that surround them. States like California and Oregon have been forced to implement executive orders to reduce water consumption. Although water diversion projects and executive orders to reduce water usage are a step in the right direction, such measures can only be implemented with the proper tools to know where – and how – water is being wasted. In Oregon, those directives include strengthening building codes and directly impact property managers and building owners. Having the right water intelligence tools in place to meet those mandates is essential.

As I’ve learned in my research, one in four of the world’s largest cities are currently in water distress. Long-term conservation efforts must be taken to reduce consumption and intelligent water management is vital for preserving water as a natural resource. I’m excited about our role in helping those looking to build a sustainable water future. It is imperative that the world transforms its approach to water management and we’re thrilled to be a part of this crucial change.


Flowless by WINT Wins the 2017 Energy Managers Association Award

Harvey Djanogly of Aqualytics receives the EMA’s 2017 Water Saving Product of the year award

The 2017 Energy Managers Association (EMA) Award winners have been revealed, and we’re excited to have won the Water Reduction Product of the Year award.
This award aims to celebrate the most inspiring energy reduction products, teams, projects, and other members of the community that strive for better energy management. We’re grateful to our UK partner, Aqualytics, who introduced Flowless to the EMA and did a fantastic job representing it to the award committee.

About the EMA

For those of you not familiar with the EMA, it is an organization set up by Lord Redesdale in June 2012 to act as the voice of the Energy Management profession. The goals of the organization are to improve the standing of the Energy Management profession and those working within it; establish best-practice in Energy Management, and to put Energy Management at the heart of British business to better meet energy requirements in the UK.

UK Water Usage Challenges

Two startling facts make water management a key piece of energy management in the UK. As Havey Djanogly of Aqualytics explains:

  1. UK insurers pay out around £2.5million every day for escape of water claims.*
  2. Businesses literally leak water and money. Anglian Water have found that “unexplained” water usage across its larger customers, amounts to 643,000 cubic meters of water per year; the equivalent to 257 Olympic swimming pools. Thus, a leak of one cubic meter per hour costs on average £70 each day or £25,715* over the course of a year.**
*Association of British Insurers
**Figures based on 2016/17 measured water and waste water charges from Anglian Water Business

Flowless insights impressed the award committee

As stated by the award committee, Flowless won the Water Reduction Product of the Year award for two main reasons:

  • Its ability to to significantly reduce water consumption by an impressive average of 20 percent per year. ‘
  • Its ability to prevent damage.

How Flowless Reduces Water Consumption

Flowless analyzes a facility’s water flow to provide organizations and property owners with critical insights driven by data and supported by pattern recognition. Because flowless understands how water is being used, it can highlight areas of misuse and poor efficiency such as over-irrigation and inefficient water users.
Furthermore, Flowless can detect hidden water leaks such as leaky toilets and identify equipment malfunctions such as faulty cooling towers. It alerts staff who can remediate the problem and put an end to the waste. As the award committee states, “Flowless doesn’t simply determine how much water a building consumes, but also identifies patterns in how that water is used.”

Flowless alerts staff immediately to changes in water usage patterns. Without Flowless, problems hidden leaks can go unnoticed, silently wasting water for weeks, months or years. When property owners and energy mangers can accurately determine patterns of water use, they can identify inefficiencies and reduce water consumption. This has a great impact on water savings and conservation, reducing waste and supporting local communities’ water conservation efforts.

Beyond Reduced Consumption: How Flowless Prevents Damage

When abnormal water consumption is detected, WINT can also shut off water supplies. The committee was impressed with the proactive solution Flowless offered to prevent leaks that can cause business disruption.

WINT Is Proud to Contribute to a Better Water Future

The 2017 EMA Award recognizes inspirational achievements, and both WINT and Aqualytics are dedicated to sustainable practices that promote water preservation and efficient water management.

WINT offers cutting-edge solutions to water management and we’re honored to have received the EMA Award for Flowless. Water an essential resource; waste, scarcity, and damage are all costly areas for businesses and communities. We’re proud to have provided a solution for water conservation with damage prevention in one powerful product and to have won the EMA award.