Smart water management in buildings

Smart buildings, defined by the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE), is the capacity to respond to changes in the environment to achieve optimum operating conditions. In recent years, population growth and increasing duration spent at home are driving the rise of smart buildings. These buildings are characterised by their ability to integrate and optimise the use of various systems such as lighting; Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning (HVAC); security, and energy and water management.

However, the growth of smart buildings responds to a commitment to the environment. At software company Idrica, Beatriz Bolonio said that smart buildings “respond to the need to be more efficient, sustainable and resilient, improving quality of life based on data”. World Resources Institute study revealed that water consumption for domestic use has grown by 600% in the last 50 years, much more than the amount used for industrial or irrigation.  

Digital transformation has gone from being a pipe dream to a reality, with some cities committed to drive this transformation (Image: iStock)

Bolonio added, “This type of technological solutions will shape the future of smart buildings, [reducing] the CO2 footprint by almost 70%, [implementing] alerts when leaks or illegal water use are detected, as well as [optimising] water use in different systems.” Smart water management includes data management platforms which facilitate the analysis of water consumption data. Furthermore, the construction of a digital simulation enhances decision-making by preventing problems detected in the digital twin. For example, the city of Valencia, Spain deploys operational intelligence solutions to manage large volumes of data, as well as monitor and control its use in buildings.

With water sensors, the amount of water consumed in real time and leak detection can be measured, as part of smart water management. In addition, smart taps and showers also detect the presence of people so that water use is adjusted accordingly, optimising consumption. As HVAC solutions, it will help reduce the building’s CO2 footprint and energy costs. With water monitoring and control systems, they can close valves automatically if there is a leak, for instance.

Smart water management also features water cleaning technology that helps remove pollutants and purify wastewater for discharge without causing damage to the environment. Water treatment systems filter and disinfect water for reuse in nonpotable applications such as irrigation, car washing and toilet flushing. This can reduce the amount of drinking water used in the building. Smart irrigation systems, which include humidity and climate sensors, determine when is necessary to water and how much water to use. Although this is commonly associated with agriculture, its use in smart buildings is already a reality.

Water resource management is a priority in smart buildings (Image: iStock)