Keeping cool by saving water
April 21, 2021
Using natural spring water to supply HVAC systems at Atlanta-area federal buildings
It takes a lot of water to create a thermally comfortable environment for the thousands of people who work and visit the Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center (SNAFC), the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Building and the Richard B. Russell U.S. Courthouse. In fact, the air-conditioning systems at all three facilities consume an average of 17.1 million gallons of water annually, largely from the city of Atlanta’s water utility.
That’s enough to provide water for roughly 156 homes, based on the EPA's average water consumption for a typical household. In an effort to reduce utility costs and to find a more natural way to supply the air-conditioning system with the water they require to operate, GSA Region 4 began to look underground for a solution.
Unbeknownst to many, natural springs permeate the ground deep under the floors of the SNAFC. Region 4 PBS began studying the springs in 2015 by using data loggers to measure the flow of water. The study found that approximately 23 million gallons of nearly continuous flowing water gushes from the springs annually. That’s 35 percent more water than what the three buildings need to properly operate their respective air-conditioning systems.
“We always knew the springs carried a lot of water right under our feet, but even we were shocked to learn that it was such a significant amount,” said Creshona Armwood, branch chief for the regional Facilities Management Division’s Energy and Sustainability Branch.
To help put this spring to use, Region 4 PBS will utilize a Utility Energy Services Contact for a project to capture and pump the spring water to the air conditioning systems at the three buildings. The system will divert an estimated 15.4 million gallons of water from city water sources, enabling utilities to provide clean water for 140 Atlanta households. Once complete, the project will save taxpayers an estimated $330,000 in annual utility cost.
“Water is a valuable resource, and by tapping into what we have access to naturally, we will help improve the capacity of Atlanta’s water providers while ensuring our tenant agencies and their employees have a comfortable environment in which to work,” said Armwood.