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By J. Wickham Zimmerman

Water features can aid in facility managers’ quest to conserve resources, positively impact the environment and reduce expenses at commercial properties.

Many commercial property owners and facility managers look for amenities that can save water while fostering environmental stewardship and lowering operating costs. As we celebrate World Water Day, it is important to note water features can accomplish all these objectives.

A common misconception about water features is that they waste water, causing harm to the environment and increasing utility expenses for property owners and managers. Yet, when designed, maintained, and operated properly, nothing could be further from the truth.

Thoughtfully created water features can not only foster sustainability but also increase social impact and lower operating expenses. What’s more, these objectives can be achieved without using extensive freshwater resources and by incorporating newly developed AI technology that helps reduce waste and increase energy efficiency.

With a firm that specializes in designing, building and maintaining water features, artificial rock work and themed environments, property value can be boosted while enhancing sustainability and cost control. The result is that facilities can leverage amenities that are beneficial for the short and long term in several ways.

Furthering Sustainability Through Water Conservation

While water features do utilize a precious natural resource to operate, owners and operators can get extended mileage out of this resource. In fact, they are increasingly being designed for sustainability, allowing them to help conserve water at the locations where they are installed.

Properly-designed water features experience less evaporation and splash—the chief causes of water loss in fountains. Also, most of today’s fountains use recirculated water to help foster conservation. The interactive water feature installed in downtown San Diego’s Waterfront Park is a prime example of this. An underground reservoir stores the water the fountain requires to operate, perpetually filtering and recirculating it to create a safe, sanitary, and sustainable amenity for city residents and visitors to enjoy.

Other environmentally friendly alternative water sources for fountains include recycled water, reclaimed stormwater, and HVAC condensate—reinforcing the fact that water features can actually aid in water conservation efforts. This has a positive impact on the environment, a key goal for facility owners and executives today.

Lowering Utility Costs

Another aspect to water features that property owners and operators may not realize is that fountain operation can temper the consumption of other precious resources like electricity—which leads to lower utility bills immediately and well into the future.

Notable sustainable designs include water features that are integrated into HVAC systems. These designs allow the HVAC system to harness the water feature as a supplemental cooling source within a building or to employ an air conditioning system to collect and provide condensate as a source for make-up water that can be recirculated into the water feature.

Incorporating AI into water features can also assist in diminishing electricity consumption. By using AI to identify when energy-related expenses are highest at a particular property and adjusting fountain operation to coordinate with peak visitor times, stakeholders can avoid unnecessary energy usage and lower expenses. AI motion sensing technology can even be used that enables people to control a fountain’s effects by waving their hand or moving their body. This technology has been built into projects such as the Illuvia show fountain at EpicCentral in Grand Prairie, TX, which attracts more than 30,000 guests weekly.

Even without AI, technological features such as programmable logic controllers, variable frequency drive pumps, and LED lights can be integrated into a water feature’s operating system to decrease overall energy use.

Ultimately, these design elements and features can help reduce reliance on electricity and promote operating efficiency in commercial settings.

With the way water features are designed today, the concept that these amenities waste water and hamper sustainability goals is a myth. By promoting water conservation and lowering energy costs through the use of design elements, AI, and other technology, these features can work hand in hand with facility owners and operators to help them meet their sustainability objectives.


Wickham Zimmerman is the CEO of Outside the Lines, Inc., a design-build themed construction company that specializes in creating one-of-a-kind rockwork, water features and themed environments for retail entertainment, hospitality, gaming, and golf properties around the globe. 

Click here for more on Water Conservation. 

Facility Executive Magazine