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Environment

Air Conditioners Might Be One Water Source of Our Urban Future

A global water crisis has companies and cities reusing the condensation from air conditioners to water plants, flush toilets and in one case, brew beer.

No drips here. San Diego’s airport has been reusing the water from air conditioner condensation since 2014. 

No drips here. San Diego’s airport has been reusing the water from air conditioner condensation since 2014. 

Photographer: John Gastaldo/Courtesy of San Diego County Regional Airport Authority

In the coastal city of Herzliya, Israel, not far from parched mountains and box canyons of the Negev Desert, air conditioners cool 46,000 square meters of glassy Microsoft Corp. office space.

Like any air conditioning system, this one produces a byproduct: water. But instead of draining this water, called condensate, Microsoft reuses it to irrigate the campus’s landscaping and help cool the building.  The tech giant uses similar systems in its offices in Twycross, U.K., and Hyderabad, India.