Laura Brannen, a senior environmental performance analyst with San Francisco–based engineering firm Mazzetti Nash Lipsey Burch, says more hospitals are coming to recognize the return on investment for water conservation.
"In the 1990s, there was this big focus on materials and waste reduction and having waste management plans. In the 2000s, hospitals realized we are using more energy than needed to still provide quality care, so we started focusing on energy reduction," she says. "We are anticipating that this decade is going to be around water conservation. Like waste in the '90s and energy in the last decade, hospitals are hugely inefficient."
Brannen says determining ROI for water conservation "is pretty simple."
"With fixtures, for example, determine gallons per flush or gallons per minute used in faucets or showers. A typical ROI around toilet bowls, for example, is literally how many toilet bowls, how much do they cost, and how much water will we save on a per-flush basis," she says. "Go around the hospital and look for leaks or running water. When we do a water audit, that is where we start—fix what's broken. And it's amazing what is broken."
That's where Providence St. Peter started.
"The first step is to collect data," Glass says. "Knowing where you stand is job one. You can't manage what you can't measure."