By Yaron Dycian
Water damage presents an enormous risk to facilities. Without water management, the costs of water waste, leaks, and damage are among the most persistent and large-scale challenges for facility managers and operations teams. Inefficient or ineffective water management results in significant losses from delays, high utility costs, customer impact, remediation and removal, and temporary or lasting damage to a company’s reputation.
Water damage is one of the most common insurance claims for facilities and represents huge (and growing) losses for insurers. Yet, the risk and cost associated with skyrocketing insurance premiums are an increasingly major problem for contractors, operators, and insurers. As they face rising payouts for water damage claims, deductible premiums have also climbed sharply, resulting in a severe impact on profitability among facilities management companies.
The constructed environment is also one of the leading sources for both carbon emissions and water waste. According to the National Building Performance Standards Coalition, buildings represent 35% of total energy-related greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Water management systems within buildings and facilities account for a large part of those emissions, making those specific issues major problems for facilities and their management teams. According to the EPA and the River Network, water-related energy use accounts for a significant percentage of all U.S. electricity consumption. Those factors all present major challenges to facilities operators as they pursue increasingly strict sustainability goals.
Until recently, industries related to the construction and operation of commercial buildings accepted that the costs associated with water waste were an unavoidable part of their business. For decades, construction and operations professionals have relied on visual inspections and antiquated, outdated technology such as leak sensors to manage water supplies on jobsites. Those methods aren’t adapted to the demands of the modern environment.
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the internet are transforming how facility leaders and their teams deal with water waste. Data-powered water management solutions empower companies to proactively optimize water use and mitigate waste and risk. Insurers are increasingly investing in solutions that help operators reduce overall risk and maintain conditions that ensure shared benefits and profitability.
Leak detection and analytics solutions offer an entirely new approach to mitigating the risk of water damage in facilities. Today’s systems provide accurate real-time data on water consumption, identify the location of a leak, and even shut off the water supply automatically in case the leak has the potential to cause damage.
Applying data analysis and machine learning, these systems identify usage patterns and alert operations and management teams in the case of anomalies that indicate potential leaks and waste. It’s a cost-effective way to reduce the risk of major property damage from burst pipes and undetected leaks, meaning insurers pay out less money in the long run and management teams have access to more affordable insurance coverage.
Crucially, new facilities water management technology solutions integrate with a wide range of existing building management systems so users have total visibility and control all in the same place. And, since water damage can happen very quickly, they can proactively communicate information through automated real-time alerts across SMS, email, and phone notifications.
The latest generation of water management technology has a proven record of success. The manager of a large complex encompassing more than 2 million square feet of office and retail space recently requested an analysis of the water use costs related to the cooling towers that power its indoor cooling system. Powerful algorithms quickly detected more than 66,000 gallons of wasted water every day resulting from an easily resolved mechanical malfunction. Once it was repaired, the company saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual utility costs.
The success of this technology has led to another major recent development. HSB, a multi-line specialty insurer and part of the Munich Re family, now offers an initiative that protects general contractors and developers from the steeply rising costs of water damage in the construction industry with an innovative warranty program.
The program, available for contractors and developers who use WINT, the AI-powered water management technology solution, protects construction jobsites from water damage. In the event the WINT system fails to prevent water leak damage, HSB will reimburse the cost of resulting water damage up to $250,000, therefore significantly reducing exposure to high deductibles that are very common in the market.
Yaron Dycian is chief product and strategy officer for WINT, a software company that produces artificial intelligence-powered leak detection and water management solutions. WINT serves some of the world’s largest organizations including technology, construction, and real estate businesses.