Translations Blog

Albert Wight

May 02, 2019

With pressure on commercial real estate management companies to reduce operating expenses and increase sustainable activities, it’s important to constantly be on the lookout for opportunities to achieve those goals. Equipment failures or other maintenance issues oftentimes offer the chance to upgrade equipment or invest in new systems that will deliver long-term benefits lower costs.

Such was the case at IBC Centre in San Antonio, where a broken water pump led the property management team to implement a system to harness underground nuisance water – an industry term for underground seepage. Since the building’s construction in 1983, this nuisance water has been pumped into the city storm water system. Now the collected water is used to provide self-sufficient landscape irrigation, supplement building cooling systems, and operate its plaza fountain, saving thousands of dollars in utility costs while slashing the property’s overall water consumption by two-thirds.

Of course, a project of this nature does not come without challenges, but creative, collaborative problem solving worked through various issues:

  • The building was not allowed to disperse the untreated water into the air through the complex’s existing, sprinkler-based landscape irrigation system. Therefore, the property management team commissioned a xeriscape design (a landscape style requiring little or no irrigation) and oversaw the conversion to drought-friendly plantings and drip irrigation, using water from the holding tanks.

  • Engineers designed and installed a system to filter and pump water from the tanks to feed rooftop cooling towers. Water from the underground tanks enters the towers approximately 20 degrees cooler than water from the city’s watermain. The cooler water has made the chillers more efficient, reducing demand on the chillers by 10%. The stored water has less dissolved solids than the city domestic water, which has also reduced the monthly chemical treatment cost.

  • The central plaza’s waterfall fountain stood dry for 11 years under city-imposed conservation restrictions; however, the captured nuisance water enabled the property management team to return it to operations. The large fountain reduces the heat load in the plaza, enabling tenants to enjoy the common area even in the hot Texas summer.

The creative solutions delivered by the team have been saving energy, lowering operating costs and enhancing property aesthetics for more than five years, and it helped IBC Centre qualify for Energy Star certification in 2014. In addition, the San Antonio Water System uses the property as a best-practice model and has referred other property owners to emulate the project’s conservation strategy and use of nuisance water.


Project cost


San Antonio Water System rebate


Net cost to ownership


Average monthly water cost before upgrade


Average monthly water cost after upgrade


Average monthly savings


Simple payback

Less than nine months

Annual water consumption reduction

4 million gallons

Albert Wight serves as Vice President and Senior Property Manager for IBC Centre, a high-profile property in San Antonio's Central Business District.



commercial real estate real estate property management property manager asset services facilities manager property management commercial commercial property sustainable property management sustainability sustainable building operations water conservation energy conservation