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Greening Government
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TOPIC: Water Reduction Targets are they a problem or do you have a solution?

Water Reduction Targets are they a problem or do you have a solution? 1 year, 2 months ago #1

Please share your positive experiences and the problems you face when reducing water wastage in the 13,900 buildings =16.4 million square meters of property owned by the UK government.

Re: Water Reduction Targets are they a problem or do you have a solution? 1 year, 2 months ago #2

Water reduction presents an issue on three fronts; 1) visibility of high consumption areas, 2) relative affordability of investment against payback from water savings and 3) staff engagement when predominantly water is always falling from the sky!!

The first is tackled by sub metering which can prove costly but is invaluable although if you have the time a TM22 type analysis on water flow through the systems within your building can yield similar results. The last is arguably the most difficult, resource intensive and potentially yields the least results……especially if you have an effective strategy and implementation program for the second issue!

As we have to reduce water consumption in Central Government the cost and payback period lowers in significance and it becomes all about targeting high consumption areas with relatively cheap retro-fit measures that maximise water savings. A few are detailed below with factors and aspects to consider;

Taps – hand-washing: any flow rate of over 6 litres per minute is excessive and actually 4 litres per minute is manageable! Fit: In-line flow restrictors to pipes at less than £40 per pipe this is significantly cheaper than sensor or aerated taps.

Taps – kitchen / tea point: Target flow rate here is around 12 litres per minute (although tea-points can sustain 8 litres) Fit: In line flow restrictors

Urinals – Waterless, and there are many products here but always ensure the pipes are cleared back to the stack first and periodically as part of routine maintenance.

Toilets – Valves will leak over time, dual flush is dependent upon behaviours, cistern sizes vary, and technologies vary. As a general rule any cistern over 6 litres is too big and should be replaced for savings of 12-33% per flush. Whether to fit dual-flush, an interruptible flush or a displacement device then becomes a question of staff engagement and is thus best piloting! An interruptible flush can save 27% more than a dual flush but only the displacement device provides 100% guaranteed savings, so tread with care!!

Re: Water Reduction Targets are they a problem or do you have a solution? 1 year, 2 months ago #3

So far as I can tell, the Government’s WRTs are internal to its own operations, and I have no information about its current FTE consumption levels or whether the means exist (metering etc) to monitor and manage these.

The targets themselves appear to be very “soft”, in that we believe current FTE consumption in the workplace to be around 4.4m3 per annum, mainly accounted for by toilet-flushing. Some of the targets appear to be above this figure, whilst even the most demanding are only slightly below.

I do not know how Government intends to pursue its internal targets, but in existing buildings the options are limited, with “hippos” in toilet cisterns being the most cost-effective; in older Government buildings with old-fashioned toilet cisterns, this would be even more effective.

In new homes and buildings the options are far greater, with workplace mains-water consumption being capable of being reduced by more than 90% in any building using rainwater harvesting and with a roof/occupancy ratio of around 10m2/FTE; where the ratio is less than that, the savings are reduced correspondingly.

Re: Water Reduction Targets are they a problem or do you have a solution? 1 year, 2 months ago #4

Behavioral change is by far the most cost effective method of water efficiency. However, whilst it's arguably the least cost I wouldn't under estimate the effort that must go into sustaining that change. Behavioral change must be managed to be effective, a few stickers and posters won't result in sustained change.

"If you change one device to be more efficient you can make savings. However, if you change one person to be more efficient then every device they use at work or home makes savings"

Volume Used = Flow x Duration x Frequency

To reduce the volume of water used you have to reduce one of the above.

Consideration should be given to Pressure Management, this will reduce flows and extend asset life.

Re: Water Reduction Targets are they a problem or do you have a solution? 1 year, 2 months ago #5

The problem with water as we all largely accept is that its commercial cost does not represent its intrinsic value. Convincing decision makers about tackling water savings is difficult in a climate where the perceived efforts seem to be outweighed by the poor financial returns.

We use only a fraction of the millions of litres of potable water we tap-off each year for drinking, the rest goes to washing, flushing, cleaning etc… UK tap water that has gone through up to 57 test for its safety. We pay fractions of pence per litre for this water piped directly to our kitchens (water which in many countries around the world remains unsafe to drink from a tap). The irony being that whilst many of us would complain if water prices increased by even a penny per litre, many more of us would unthinkingly pay £0.80+ for a 330ml bottle (£2.40/litre) of water with a nice brand label from the local stationery/convenience store.

In the South East, water scarcity levels are regularly and justifiably linked with levels in parts of the world synonymous with drought.

Development continues to progress at apace in the South East and yet measures are not being adopted to address this on-going shortage.
Measures that are applied in new housing developments are being removed by too many householders in favour of less restrictive water measures. New builds (commercial and domestic) are not naturally erring on the side of low water and no water technologies other than to meet (but rarely exceed) current 2010 Building Regulations.

My organisation still has some way to go.
That said, by installing Ecoprod waterless urinals in its refurbished depot it is raising awareness as well as removing losses to the drain and on-going cistermiser flushings. By installing rainwater capture to serve refuse vehicle wash, massive water savings will be seen. By installing PIR taps with spray nozzles, water wastage is kept to a minimum. Low flush water closets also help. Drought Resistant Planting techniques can make a difference whilst allowing organisations to maintain the look they desire.

Water is not every sustainability/energy/carbon/environment manager’s area of expertise but that need not be an excuse for inaction. Adopting shared savings programmes with one of the many companies now vying for business, water savings can be addressed back 5 years and more importantly long standing water leakages can be recognised through billing anomalies, reported and dealt with by water companies. These programmes require no capital expenditure.

Potable water is an all too finite necessity for life. The public sector in particular needs to take a dynamic lead on its conservation.

Re: Water Reduction Targets are they a problem or do you have a solution? 1 year, 2 months ago #6

Craig, I tried to mail you but it doesn't seem to be working. I would welcome the opportunity to talk through your successes. Feel free to drop me a line or give me a call on 07771942892
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