How to save running costs and reach green goals in the Public Sector and beyond

With a new utilities framework for Public Sector organisations now live and with Covid-19 restrictions starting to ease and more movement in and out of buildings, a greater focus on reaching sustainability goals is becoming more possible/possible.

Hot water can cost between 2 to 4 times as much as cold water, once energy costs are taken into account, so even small steps to increase water efficiency and cut waste helps lower water and energy costs for organisations – whether that’s council offices, emergency service sites or other Public Sector facilities.

If you manage utilities or facilities in the public sector and want to reduce reliance on mains water, supplied through wholesalers’ networks, as well as look for efficiencies and where risks are on your infrastructure, then there’s a few things to keep in mind. Plus, there are essential steps to take if you’re looking to procure water too.

Get to know where savings opportunities could be

Water efficiency activities and devices can help the public sector to meet their environmental targets to reduce carbon emissions and save money.

These include low-cost urinal controllers, sensor-controlled taps, water efficient showerheads and the savings from these – and larger measures – add up towards your organisation’s green goals and targets.

Here’s some examples of ways to save:

  • Sensors on urinals can reduce the number of flushes, so they aren’t doing this when no-one is at your site. You could even go for waterless urinals as a single urinal system can be as large as 9 litres, flushing at least 4 times per hour. That’s over 800 litres per day.
  • There can be substantial savings, for example, a London-based university identified £50,000 of savings after taking steps to monitor its water use and reduce leaks.

Watch for water waste – as small drips can add bigger extra costs

Regular servicing and maintenance of taps, toilets and urinals – as well as any water efficiency devices you have – is also important – so you know they’re working properly and no water’s being wasted.

Carrying out site checks regularly is also worth the time. For example, a High School had a leak in a plant room at their site – losing an estimated 12,000 litres (12 cubic metres) an hour, at an estimated cost of £850 a day – caused by a copper pipe that had corroded. The leak, in the last eight months, was causing some flooding in the plant room so needed quick action. Water retailer Water Plus provided a quote for its repair experts to attend and complete work on-site and the leak was fixed the following day.

Delving into water data helps/delivers results

More public sector sites – and organisations in the private sector – are exploring how to get more data on their water use.

Monitoring devices, such as data loggers that can feed information into a smart portal to help track use and spot unusual increases, to regularly checking your water meter readings, ideally each month, are effective methods of tracking everyday usage which can help those managing utilities see where savings can be made, particularly across large or multiple sites.   

It also means any unexpected surges in consumption, which can indicate a pipe leak, can be spotted and, if necessary, a repair organised promptly.

Understand your portfolio of buildings

It’s important to know which buildings your organisation owns, or is responsible for, the addresses of these, how much water they use over the course of a year and whether there are devices measuring water use such as Automatic Meter Reader data loggers (AMR).

It’s worth remembering, savings from introducing water-saving devices can potentially be much more than on a new retail contract for water and wastewater on its own.

Gathering Supply point Ids (SPIDs) numbers and locating where the water meters are, if you’re able to, will also put you in a better place to see what water you use and when along with where any issues may be, to protect your organisation from disruption and limit increases in future costs from leaks.

Follow the rules and requirements to be compliant

Where a public sector organisation has to advertise their water procurement – and if your spend is over £25,000 then they will need to – then they can manage the tender process meeting the compliance requirements themselves, under the Public Contract Regulations 2015, or it’s much easier and less time-consuming to use a framework.

One of the newest for the Public Sector, is Pagabo’s national utilities, water and wastewater framework, which also covers Ancillary Services such as water efficiency, leak detection and repair as well as smart metering – installing Automatic Meter Reader (AMR) data loggers, with data accessible to customers through an AMR online smart portal. The framework, along with further information, can be found at:  https://www.pagabo.co.uk/frameworks/utilities-supply-framework .

By using an established Public Contract Regulations compliant framework you know the legal requirements will be met for your procurement needs. And frameworks have delivered significant savings for the public sector too.

Want to know more?

Water Plus is the largest water retailer in the UK and manages the water and wastewater services for many public sector organisations, including some of the largest and most diverse in England and Scotland – from councils, schools, colleges and universities, to UK Government-owned sites, prisons, hospitals and the emergency services. More details on the services can be found at: www.water-plus.co.uk/watermanagement

You can contact the Public Sector team at Water Plus direct at:bids@water-plus.co.uk, if you have any questions or need help with procurement and tenders.