Water Management in High-Rise Buildings

Gaurav Prasad Mathur
According to a recent report by Niti Aayog, India is suffering from the worst water crisis in its history, with around 600 million people facing severe water shortage. If this continues, there will be a 6% loss in the country's GDP by 2050, says Gaurav Mathur, Head of Business Development (Building Services), Grundfos Pumps India.

In a country where water is the cheapest available commodity, extreme climate change, rising population, air pollution and lifestyle choices are affecting this natural wealth. This can be attributed to the unplanned growth with demographic expansion creating a huge demand for settlement. Shortage of space and shooting land costs have led to the creation of more and more high-rise structures or vertical cities. This puts forth a huge challenge to the overall design structure to ensure efficient water distribution and management systems. Most of the tall buildings in India are in the commercial capital Mumbai with more than 2500 high-rise buildings already constructed.( http://ijetch.org/papers/671-EA1012.pdf). With more than thousand mid-rises, Delhi and its surrounding regions are witnessing huge construction activities with 1500 already constructed high-rises.

Typically, different zones are used to gain optimum user comfort in water supply and water distribution applications. These are found in high-rise buildings and splitting the supply system is necessary to ensure the water pressure does not vary excessively from one floor to another. The minimum pressure on the upper floor in each zone does not fall below 1.5 - 2 bars and the maximum pressure on the lowest floor in each zone does not exceed 4 - 4.5 bars.

For high-rise buildings, the use of roof tanks to ensure adequate water pressure in buildings, and especially tall buildings, is the most common approach. The alternative is the use of pressurised systems, where a number of booster pumps provide the necessary pressure. Roof top tanks though not technologically advanced, allow both water pressure and supply in case of power failure. However, roof tanks have greater structural requirements and are high maintenance. High-rise or multi-storey buildings can usually be divided into levels of water pressure control. Water supply can be done through pressure-boosters to each level. With improved and energy-efficient pressure booster technology, there are far more advanced options today.

Whatever is measured and monitored, can be managed. With efficient water management systems and online platforms, large numbers of water points in distant locations can easily be monitored and managed. Such systems allow water service companies to expand operations and establish a new level of professional and reliable water supply services - for both urban and rural communities. Through online water management platforms, water service operators can easily monitor the performance of every water point for parameters such as consumption, performance, service needs, etc.

For commercial buildings, calculating total flow is easy. However, calculating fluctuations in flow during a day is a challenge and makes the system design difficult. To optimise system performance in buildings, it's time to look beyond individual components to intelligent solutions that take care of the entire system. With intelligent pumps, cloud connectivity and digital services, we can reach a new level of performance with energy efficiency, reduced complexity, and low life-cycle costs.
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