Smarter, Safer Hot Water: Digital Thermostatic Mixing Stations

Specifying digital mixing and recirculation stations provide a sustainable measurement and verification system that conserves water, saves energy, protects users from hot water burns, and helps minimize the occurrence of Legionella in tempered water delivery systems
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Sponsored by Powers
Celeste Allen Novak FAIA, LEED AP BD+C

Choosing Electronics for Safety, Accessibility, Controls, and Measurements

Surveyed by a large water technology company, plumbing engineers rated the most important features of digital mixing valves. Out of 44 responses, the following, in order, were the reasons to select a digital instead of a mechanical plumbing system:

  1. Outlet temperature controls
  2. BAS integration
  3. Remote temperature monitoring
  4. Remote temperature set points
  5. Sanitation mode
  6. Web accessibility
  7. Data logging

Thirty–two percent of the engineers specified digital mixing valves to support their goals in energy management. Twenty-five percent chose them because of advance performance capabilities that included outlet temperature controls and the reduction in temperature swings from +/- 7 degrees F to +/- 2 degrees F. Safety, liability, communications were also major factors considered by plumbing engineers when specifying a hot water distribution system.

Project Types – All Buildings and Green Buildings

In 2013, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) formally recognized sustainability as being central to the design of buildings that protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare. According to the AIA, “sustainable design is achieved through an integrated design and delivery process that enhances the natural and built environment by using energy sensibly with a goal toward carbon neutrality; improves air and water quality; protects and preserves water and other resources; and creates environments, communities, and buildings that are livable, comfortable, productive, diverse, safe, and beautiful.”

All buildings need to have safe water supplies designed and maintained throughout the life of the building. As the population grows, urban density increases and larger populations are being housed in both commercial and institutional structures. The characteristics of many of these project types provide a basis for choosing plumbing systems with value-added features, particularly those that enhance data collection.

Surveyed plumbers and engineers specify digital mixing systems in these types of buildings.

Surveyed plumbers and engineers specify digital mixing systems in these types of buildings.

 Value-added features of automated hot water mixing and recirculation  systems.

Images courtesy of Powers

Value-added features of automated hot water mixing and recirculation systems.

All buildings are living machines with the unique system and biological relationships of organisms. Energy, water, and air quality are part of the many building systems that professionals need to integrate, maintain, and celebrate by design. New technology is supporting the movement to develop smarter green buildings. New green building credits such as found in LEED v4 require more documentation and measuring of system inputs. The Building Owners and Management Association recommends high-performance buildings use BAS monitoring systems and challenges building owners to reduce their use of natural resources, non-renewable energy sources, and waste products. New technology for automating plumbing systems allows managers to measure, meter, and maximize water use. These new plug and play components are designed both for new construction as well as for renovations.

As California and other parts of the Western U.S. face extreme drought, researchers, designers, and manufacturers race to find the most effective way to save water as well as save energy. Advances in digital water technology provide new opportunities and approaches to safer and more efficient water delivery systems for high-performance buildings.


1. Survey: Scalding Water Found in Nearly 90% of Hotel Rooms; Legionella Also a Risk
2. August 19, 2015
3. Fast Facts. August 20,2015
4. Outbreaks. August 20, 2015
5. Energy consumption in homes by end uses.. September 8, 2015
6. Table B24
7. Managing Energy Costs in Hospitals. August 20, 2015
8. Indoor Water Use Calculator. August 23, 2015
9. Indoor Water Use Reduction. August 23, 2015
10. Summary Of The Reduction Of Lead In Drinking Water Act. August 23, 2015
11. IBID
13. August 23, 2015
14. Section 8.1.Water treatment, Sanitizing, & Management System. August 23, 2015
15. AIA Continuing Education System: Sustainable Design. August 19, 2015

Celeste Allen Novak, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C, is an Ann Arbor, Mich., architect who specializes in sustainable design and planning. She is the author of “Designing Rainwater Harvesting Systems: Integrating Rainwater Into Building Systems.”

Powers A Watts Regulator Company

Powers, a Watts Regulator Company, provides distribution, point-of-use, and emergency water mixing and temperature solutions used in residential, commercial, and institutional applications. Powers’ T/P technology provides superior protection against temperature and pressure changes.


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Originally published in Architectural Record