Some Green Office Bldgs May Have Water Safety Issues

Some Green Office Bldgs May Have Water Safety Issues

USA – A study revealed that green office buildings with infrequent water use could have chemical and microbiological safety issues, reported Science Daily on Thursday morning (10 March, SGT).

Notably, a research published in PLOS Water by Andrew Whelton from Purdue University, in Indiana and his colleagues wanted to assess the safety of water in green office buildings seeing lower water usage and lacklustre occupancy periods.

To better understand chemical and microbiological quality in an eco-friendly commercial property’s plumbing system after weekend stagnation, researchers sampled water from a 10-year-old, 3-storey, LEED-certified office building in Indiana from January to February 2020. Samples from all of the office building’s water sources were tested for pH, metals, ions, and bacterial strains of Legionella.

Researchers found that copper and lead levels rose over the weekend, and Legionella bacteria counts were highest at a fixture which was not used during sampling. Moreover, the concentration of disinfectant chlorine fell over the weekend.

The study’s findings indicate that office buildings used less frequently because of lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic should undergo regular water testing, as water chemical and microbiological testing are not needed to comply with the existing building code in the US.

“The green office building studied had many features that are increasingly common in new buildings, including low-flow faucets, automatic faucets, and alternative piping systems for major water uses like toilet flushing and irrigation. These design elements can change water temperature profiles and significantly reduce the amount of water used compared to traditional office buildings, raising concerns for water quality degradation,” explained the authors.

Consequently, “the first people in the office on a Monday morning may, in fact, be using contaminated drinking water. To better understand if the water we are using is safe, much more water testing at the faucet must be conducted. Plumbing design standards and codes must also be revised,” they concluded.

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