Bills Put Pressure on Commercial Water Use

Legislation filed last week could affect commercial real estate development in 2012 and beyond in the name of water conservation.

The Atlanta region faces a difficult task in curbing its water usage. Increased water consumption, as well as an extended drought from 1998 until 2002, has made it clear that water is a finite resource. In terms of its water supply, the region is at a crossroads, especially in the face of a federal judge’s ruling last year stating Lake Lanier was not to be used as a water supply for metro Atlanta. Withdrawals from Lake Lanier could revert to levels not experienced since the 1970s.

If that happens, according to the Metro Atlanta Chamber, metro Atlanta’s water supply would drop by about 250 million gallons a day. For perspective, in 2009 water releases from Buford Dam averaged roughly 710 million gallons a day. Based on 1975 operating level, Buford Dam would only release 387 million gallons a day.

But what specifically does the legislation, filed as House Bill 1094 and Senate Bill 370, mean to commercial builders and future tenants?

The legislation, which is being championed by Governor Sonny Perdue, would require efficient water fixtures in all new residential and commercial construction across Georgia and efficient cooling towers in new industrial construction. For new commercial multi-unit projects, the bill will require sub-metering enabling units to receive reports on water usage. The bills would require low-flow faucets, toilets and other water-saving devices in all new buildings starting in 2012.

Water conservation is critical, and through the US Building Council, Energy Star and other organizations that certify sustainable buildings, many of these initiatives are already being implemented and becoming more mainstream.

Carter has been at the fore of this trend, having managedseveral LEED-certified projects, including 171 17th Street at AtlanticStation.

The bills are sponsored by Senate Natural Resources and theEnvironment Committee Chairman Ross Tolleson and House Natural Resources andEnvironment Committee Chair Lynn Smith. 

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