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Posted 2/6/2014

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By Laura Curvey, ERDC-CERL


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - A newly developed mobile “app” can speed installation water audits, provide accurate data, and lower the cost of tracking equipment. The Mobile Information Collection Application: Water Equipment Tracking -- MICA:WET -- tool is an Android based app that provides a means of tracking water equipment and conservation projects at the building level across an installation.

Water resources are being stressed from a variety of factors, including increased demand and drought, and climate change may further disrupt current and future water availability. Executive Orders 13342 and 13514 require federal agencies to establish baselines for potable water consumption using fiscal year 2007 and reduce potable water intensity per square foot by 2% annually through 2020. The challenge for most installation operators has been to disaggregate the data from the installation-level meter to determine where water demand can be reduced.

In addition to the EO requirements, Section 432 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 requires federal agencies to also track and evaluate energy and water use on “covered facilities.” These facilities include any building, installation, structure or other property over 50,000 square feet owned or operated by the federal government. The EO states that energy managers “shall complete, for every calendar year, a comprehensive energy and water evaluation for approximately 25 percent of the covered facilities…in a manner that ensures the installation is evaluated every four years.” This mandate requires energy managers to establish a regular audit program to track the data and plan energy and water savings projects based on an evaluation of the finding. 

For an installation, the field work and data tracking have the potential to be overwhelming. However, in recent years mobile computer technology has improved and application-based audits are becoming possible. The light, adaptable platforms provide potential for a variety of uses throughout the military. The benefits from using apps on tablets are speed and elimination of transfer errors. For example, energy audit applications being tested by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory show that time spent collecting data in the field with mobile tablets speeds audits and can reduce overall cost of Level III auditing by 75%.  This result shows that it is possible to do Level III audits cheaper than the cost for current Level I and II audits..

WET was created through the collaboration of two Engineer Research and Development Center laboratories, the Construction Engineering Research Laboratory and the Information Technology Laboratory. ITL’s existing MICA framework was used to create WET, known together as MICA:WET. This tool can be used to capture water equipment information throughout an installation while also identifying potential equipment options useful in facility planning.

MICA:WET allows auditors to quantitatively measure flow rates and photographically inventory water equipment throughout an installation. The collected data is then wirelessly transmitted to a central server located at ITL in Vicksburg, Miss. Downloadable databases are available to users to help estimate yearly or daily water demand at the building level. Algorithms are currently being created to the calculations automatically. The will be based on estimated daily occupancy, time of use throughout the day, and demographics. 

MICA:WET is compatible to two established management and optimization programs: BUILDER and the Net Zero Installation(NZI) Tool, both of which were developed at CERL. After the data collected by MICA:WET is uploaded to the ITL servers, registered users of the NZI tool can download and use their data to plan efficiency and conservation measures. The algorithms are currently being tested.  Currently MICA:WET is able to create databases to be immediately available for download from the NZI tool. Additional work on calculations, once complete, will be able to estimate building-level water use which can then be rolled up into an overall water use profile from an installation-level meter. Both the databases and calculations will be available through the NZI tool. When the algorithms are refined, the MICA:WET tool will be useful in determining tenant use until meters and/or sub-meters are installed.

CERL