Auditing for Building Water Health

  • Overview
  • NSF P453 – Cooling Tower Water Systems
  • Why Work With NSF?
  • Process
  • Complying With CMS Requirements

Our building water health program can help you maintain your buildings more safely and effectively through our comprehensive auditing service. Our personalized training and education services ensure your staff is fully trained to put in place a water management plan that will be audited by NSF.

What is included in building water health?

  • Premise plumbing
  • Pool and spa systems
  • Decorative fountains
  • Cooling tower water systems and evaporative condensers
  • Ice machines and humidifiers
  • On-site water storage
  • Health care considerations

What are the benefits of our independent auditing program?

  • Reduces the risk of Legionella for people in the environment around the building
  • Reduces liability in litigation cases
  • Bases staff performance on current best practices
  • Improves maintenance which extends equipment life
  • Improves staff training and education

NSF P453 – Cooling Tower Water Systems

What Is NSF P453?

NSF P453 outlines proper maintenance and safety practices associated with cooling tower water systems. This protocol addresses potentially hazardous conditions associated with cooling towers in commercial buildings and health care facilities, and on campuses. NSF P453 provides detailed, actionable steps for building owners and managers to maintain and operate their cooling tower systems to reduce the risk of Legionella amplification and transmission.

Who should seek evaluation to P453?

Building owners and managers of facilities that have a cooling tower water system can develop a water management plan using the protocol and any pertinent state or local requirements. These parties need to monitor and document that the plan is being implemented. NSF helps assure that best practices for cooling tower management are being followed by providing data collection tools and independent, third-party audits.

Why Work With NSF?

NSF is a pioneer in the water quality industry and has been working to protect public health and safety since 1944. We leveraged our long history in water science and our partnerships with building and industry experts to create an efficient building water health program that will help our customers reduce liability and manage risk. By developing specialized, customizable training programs, we help building staff implement best practices, and by providing independent audits, we document their proper implementation.


The process of working with NSF on this program involves these steps:

  1. Your company submits an application.
  2. Your program team is trained in the site-specific requirements.
  3. Your company provides all of the necessary information documenting your program plan.
  4. NSF reviews and audits your program plan.
  5. Upon acceptance, you agree to fully implement the plan and maintain all records of implementation.
  6. NSF conducts quarterly audits, including site audits, to verify implementation of your plan and confirm your continued participation in the auditing service.

Complying With CMS Requirements

To protect the health and safety of patients, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) now requires Medicare certified health care facilities such as hospitals and long-term care facilities to implement policies and procedures that reduce the risk of growth and transmission of Legionella and other opportunistic pathogens in building water systems. These facilities are now mandated to:

  • Conduct a facility risk assessment to identify where Legionella and other waterborne pathogens could grow and spread in the facility water system
  • Implement a water management program that includes control measures, such as:
    • Physical controls
    • Temperature management
    • Disinfectant level control
    • Visual inspections
    • Environmental testing for pathogens
  • Specify testing protocols and acceptable ranges for control measures, and document the results of testing and corrective actions taken when control limits are not maintained

Our independent auditing service can help facilities achieve compliance with these requirements by verifying that the measures developed are being implemented and by documenting compliance with procedures in a water management program. NSF’s trained auditors can inspect building water systems including the premise plumbing, water storage, pool and spa, decorative fountain, cooling tower, ice machine and humidifier systems.

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