The Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) provides streamlined, updated operations and maintenance (O&M) guidelines for the following water-using equipment:
- Toilets and urinals
- Faucets and showerheads
- Landscape and irrigation equipment
- Commercial kitchen equipment
- Vehicle wash facilities
This page provides agencies with high-level information on what to assess, how often to assess, and action items for each equipment type with the goal of providing useful tips on how to maintain and operate water equipment efficiently to save water and prolong the equipment life.
This information is intended for O&M managers, technical staff, and resource (energy, water, or environmental) managers as it applies to water-using systems and equipment typically found in federal facilities. These guidelines are not designed to replace or supersede manufacturer guidelines or specifications.
General Operations and Maintenance
O&M is a cost-effective way to ensure reliability, safety, and water efficiency. Inadequate maintenance of water-using systems or equipment can lead to unnecessary leaks and losses and premature equipment failure.
The following guidelines identify actions that should be completed on scheduled intervals. Unplanned actions that can take place daily are another aspect of effective maintenance. These actions include:
- Regularly inspecting water-using systems and individual pieces of equipment; verifying systems are operating and performing correctly
- Reporting and repairing all leaks, and encouraging all building occupants to contact building management or maintenance staff to report leaks, running flush valves, dripping faucets, and broken or misaligned irrigation equipment
- Reporting and repairing all damaged equipment. Examples of common damaged equipment include (but are not limited to) broken or misaligned sprinkler heads, malfunctioning faucet and flushometer sensors, broken flush valves, and altered showerheads. Identify these problems during routine inspections and encourage users and occupants to alert building management or maintenance staff if they observe damaged equipment
- Operating and maintaining equipment according to manufacturer guidelines.
Operations and Maintenance Guidelines
The tables below offer O&M guidelines for the water-using equipment. The tables list information by:
- Equipment/schedule: identifies the specific item or part being addressed
- Frequency: lists the recommended time intervals for the maintenance action
- Assess: describes the action to be taken by O&M managers, technical staff, and resource (energy, water, environmental) managers to assess the equipment
- Action items: describes the actions to be completed when problems are identified.
Toilets and Urinals
Faucets and Showerheads
Landscape and Irrigation Equipment
|Scheduling||At the start of the irrigation season and at major changes in weather patterns||Review irrigation schedule to determine the time of day and days per week for each zone.||Verify that the irrigation schedule is appropriate for climate, soil conditions, plant materials, and season. Irrigate during non-windy and low-sun periods to decrease evaporation; early mornings are typically the least windy.|
Change the watering schedule based on changing weather conditions and as part of regular, periodic maintenance; consider installing a rain gauge that is tied into the irrigation controller to automatically shut off the irrigation system during a rain event (called a "rain delay").
For flat landscaped areas, water deeply and less frequently rather than lightly and often. Deep, less frequent watering encourages deep roots, resulting in more-drought-tolerant plants.
Irrigate using a "cycle and soak" schedule for steep slopes where surface runoff is likely.
If irrigation is controlled by an advanced weather-based or soil-moisture-based controller, ensure that the system is properly programmed for the location and the specific landscape type.
|Irrigation monitoring||Once a month through the irrigation season||Install an irrigation meter to measure the amount of water applied to the landscape. The meter should be an advanced meter with interval data capability and automatic data logging.||Use this data for system analysis to monitor for system leaks and repair needs and to determine a water budget.|
|Equipment maintenance||Once a month through the irrigation season||Periodically walk the landscape grounds and check for standing water, which may indicate a leak. Submit a work order if required. Ask the grounds manager to check emitter components for broken heads and leaks. Common examples of damaged emitters include broken heads, clogged nozzles, nozzle seal leaks, sunken heads, and tilted and misaligned heads.||Require immediate repair of broken components; adjust components as needed so that they efficiently water the landscape and not the hardscape.|
|Landscape maintenance||Annually||Review the current landscape maintenance practices (aeration, mowing, mulching, amendments, and weeding) and timing. Periodically review all landscape service and maintenance agreements to incorporate a high priority for water efficiency. Consider hiring landscape contractors who focus on water-efficient or climate-appropriate landscaping. Require landscape contractors to report and fix problems.||Aerate turf at the beginning of the irrigation season to introduce oxygen into the soil and encourage deep root growth.|
Alternate turf mowing height between high and low levels and alternate mowing patterns to encourage deep root growth and drought-tolerant turf.
Add mulch to landscaped areas to help reduce evaporation, inhibit weed growth, cool plant root zones, and reduce erosion.
Amend the landscape soil with organic matter 4 to 6 inches deep, which will help to capture stormwater and retain moisture.
Keep landscaped areas weed free; weeds can take up valuable water and nutrients that are needed by the landscape.
For new construction and renovations, design landscapes to feature native and/or adaptive plantings that have low watering requirements. Follow the new construction checklist requirements.
|System pressure||Annually||Verify that irrigation system pressure is within manufacturer specifications once per irrigation season.||Install a pressure-reducing valve if pressure exceeds the manufacturer's specification.|
|Performance measurement||Annually||Review grounds maintenance contracts to determine if water efficiency certification and water use/performance are part of contract requirements.||Require the grounds maintenance staff or contractor to become a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) WaterSense Certified Irrigation Professional.|
Incorporate a water budget, which can be used as a performance standard for water consumption. Calculate water needs based on the landscape's requirements and use that information to plan an irrigation schedule to meet those needs.
|Irrigation audit||Every 3 years||Contract with a qualified irrigation auditor to perform a system irrigation audit that follows procedures outlined in the Irrigation Association's Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor Program or equivalent. The result of the audit determines the system's distribution uniformity.||Based on the results of the audit, adjust the irrigation system to increase the distribution uniformity.|
|Education and outreach||Annually||Identify actions to improve occupant awareness and practices.||Provide a clear means for building occupants to report an irrigation leak, broken and misaligned sprinkler heads, and watering during a rain event.|
Encourage grounds maintenance staff to sweep driveways and impervious surfaces rather than spraying them clean.
- To properly operate and maintain landscaping and irrigation systems, a facility should develop a grounds maintenance program that includes training, scheduling, maintenance, and monitoring. If the facility subcontracts grounds maintenance to an outside company, include language in the contract that requires performance criteria for water efficiency and conservation and implementation of the best management practices.
- The "cycle and soak" method breaks up irrigation events into multiple applications of short duration. This gives adequate time for the landscape to absorb the irrigation water. If the installed irrigation controller is not capable of such programming, replace it with advanced control technology.
- Distribution uniformity provides information on how effectively irrigation water is applied to the landscape. This is an important component of the overall system efficiency. The distribution system uniformity reveals whether irrigation is spread evenly over the landscape or if some areas are over- or under-watered. According to the Irrigation Association, a distribution uniformity of greater than 65% is considered acceptable. A low distribution uniformity can reveal misaligned and mismatched heads, required repairs, and distribution system improvements.
Commercial Kitchen Equipment
To properly operate and maintain commercial kitchen equipment (i.e., ice machines, steam cookers, pre-rinse spray valves, food disposals, and dishwashers), a program should be established for each dining facility that includes routine inspection, maintenance and repair, review of operating procedures, and education.
Vehicle Wash Facilities
These 14 best practices help agencies increase water efficiency and meet federal requirements.