When it comes to choosing your facility’s plumbing system, understanding if a greywater reclamation system is best for you can go a long way. A greywater system collects the drainage from showers, sinks, lavatories, cooling tower blow down, and condensate drains. However, it’s not enough to simply understand how the system works, but how the design can be customized for your building and how the cost affects your budget.

Every water treatment system comes with initial capital and operational cost. Before beginning to calculate the return on investment, it is important to factor in a variety of costs, as well as the life span of the system and building.

Initial costs of a plumbing system typically include tanks, site work, utility connection cost, permit and inspection costs, and treatment system capital costs. Dual plumbing system costs are usually also included because reclamation systems are required to separate grey and black water drainage, which often results in parallel plumbing piping for collection and distribution of the treated water; additionally the cost to allocate space for the water treatment system and potentially lose real estate should be considered. A new plumbing system also includes various operating costs, such as service contracts with manufactures or service providers, operating energy costs, and asset maintenance like replacing pumps and other capital cost items, which should also be taken into consideration.

Although these are typical initial and operation costs, there are a few factors to consider that might offset the cost of the plumbing system, including water and sewer rate savings which are based on local agency charges, government and utility agency incentives, and tax deductions. If the main city sewer can accommodate your new plumbing system and does not have to be upsized, additional infrastructure upgrade savings can be made, as well as the benefit of having the ‘green’ factor, which can result in fewer natural resources used to operate the building and lower utility costs to attract more tenants.

Ultimately, the more recycled water in the building, the shorter the return on investment is on the water treatment system. Greywater treatment is becoming more desirable in the market due to its performance as a water conservation measure and its potential to offset the future water rate increases. In the case of the UCLA Football Performance Center project, the greywater treatment system is able to accommodate up to 72 percent of the building water demands. Although greywater reclamation systems might not be appropriate for every building, they definitely should be given consideration and can contribute to long term savings for the right project.


  • Zay Soe

    Senior Design Engineer

    As a Senior Design Engineer, Zay Soe is responsible for the planning and designing of plumbing systems for administrative offices, healthcare, and government facilities. With over seven years of experience, he has designed multiple plumbing and medical gas systems and has earned responsibility for building plumbing load analyses, equipment selection, and preparing completed construction documents for all plumbing work.

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