Prine has realized cost-savings as well, finding that the return on investment for the engineered water equipment he purchases is typically achieved in less than 52 weeks. However, for Brewer, long-term ROI wasn’t his first concern. Instead, he was more worried over the immediate costs associated with the technology and getting the water to all the facilities — the biggest limitations Brewer says he faces.

The on-site-generation technologies are expensive, running anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000 per unit, he says, making it prohibitive to purchase multiple units. At the same time, supplying all the custodial staff with engineered water from just one site would also be costly because it has to be transported to all 35 buildings. This is why the school district is using different engineered water technologies. It’s also why it’s using chemicals in certain cases — although this isn’t the only reason.

“Even in buildings where engineered water is being used, there are some instances where we need synthetic chemicals, for example, when we have to strip wax off a floor or there’s a heavy buildup of grease,” says Brewer. “However, engineered water reduces the need to use harsher chemicals all the time.”

Prine says there are situations calling for traditional cleaners, such as removing calcium deposits on sinks. And during their often-harsh winters, they tend to use more of these products to help maintain facility cleanliness.

“We also use EPA-registered disinfectants when needed on high-touch points in our facilities,” says Prine. “However, we use our [engineered water] technology on a consistent basis throughout the year in most of our facilities and have reduced our chemical consumption significantly.”

If Krause and her staff had a wish list for engineered water it would be for these products to work more effectively on grease and hard-water buildup.

“The downside of engineered water is that it hasn’t passed our tests of removing things like grease, gum or adhesives,” she says. “Unfortunately, we do use specialty products such as gum remover, adhesive remover and two sustainable products that we helped create from organic salts to remove lime and calcium build-up in our bathrooms. But my hope is to continue to eliminate any traditional chemicals currently still in use in our halls.”

As for what kind of assistance or information distributors could provide, Krause mentions things like testing results, references from other users and third-party certifications. Prine says any distributor should provide product demos, educational material and should also encourage end users to trial and test the technology.

Brewer would like to see manufacturers or distributors create a “hub-and-spoke” delivery system, essentially handling the generating of the water and distribution, which could potentially encourage more widespread adoption, bringing them more business.

Prine feels that distributors should seriously consider adding engineered water to their offerings, adding that doing so will position them as progressive and help them capture more market share. Krause believes the same.

“I don’t know a facility that isn’t looking to increase their sustainable cleaning, and water-based products play a huge role in providing that,” says Krause. “Plus, it’s more resource responsible.” 

Pamela Mills-Senn is a freelancer based in Long Beach, California.

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