If you work in an air-conditioned facility, this story might interest you. And, if your company rewards money-saving ideas and you have an active mind, this story could have you looking at your cooling process or your facility with new eyes. Potential for creativity lurks everywhere.

This story takes place in Natal, Brazil, at a McDonald’s fast food joint. It’s about maintenance specialist Antonio Lindomar da Silva, who worked at the restaurant and faced down a dripping air-conditioner.

Natal is a city built on sand, and although there’s plenty of rain during the year, there is a dry season September through January, when it’s warm and arid. Air-conditioning is a must for customers, as is water for the landscaping.

Are you already getting an idea of where this story is headed? Necessity met invention.

As the air-conditioner removed humidity, it built up a lot of water from condensation. Da Silva’s brain began clicking. The non-drinkable water could be repurposed for projects outside the building. The slow trickle of wasted water from the air-conditioner had the potential of collecting into a sizable amount of usable water. Collecting the water daily, da Silva began using it for other things, such as watering exterior plantings and cleaning the parking lot.

The maintenance director of the Latin American developmental licensee for McDonald’s got interested. He figured the process could be replicated at other McDonald’s locations. He was right. It could. And now, 52 restaurants in eastern and central Brazil are implementing the condensation-collection method for plant-watering and exterior-cleaning projects.

According to McDonald’s, the program saves an average of 264 gallons of water per day. It’s now considering expansion to its other restaurants elsewhere in the world.

Da Silva created a simple, viable solution — reuse condensation from the air-conditioner. His boss had the vision to expand the practice beyond a single restaurant.

What about you and your colleagues? Any water- or energy-saving possibilities to be noticed where you work?

 Anne Armel, Group Publisher, armela@bnpmedia.com