Why water saving should be more of a consideration for sustainability in commercial build

As we move closer to the government’s 2025 and 2050 net zero future plans, we can’t help but notice the distinct lack of water saving measures. In fact, run through the Government’s white paper – powering our net zero future – and there’s only 10 mentions of water within the entire document.

Strange when water saving measures can be one of the easiest and cheapest ways to save water but also, associated energy costs. In domestic settings, hose pipe bans are a regular thing, we’re told to be mindful of our water usage and we’re given meters to measure our water usage so we can be charged accordingly. If you’re on a low income or have a family, you have access to lower water rates, although these tariffs aren’t generally published. You also have access to a water saving specialist who will come to your home, provide you with water saving devices and handy tips and tricks to save water.

However, in the commercial and social sectors, it’s not widely talked about or even considered. There’s no requirement for all social housing to be built with water saving in mind, for these water saving devices to be ready fitted for when the tenants move in which will save them money, power and energy right from day dot. There’s no simple water butt in the garden ready for the tenants to water their garden with or advice to inform their water supplier of their financial situation to ensure the best rates. These are actionable, easily remedied fixes which benefit the tenant and help to reduce emissions.

By simply installing aerators on taps tenants can expect water and energy savings of up to 60% in a year. In fact, if the flow rate is reduced from 10 litres per minute to 4 litres, for example, then they could save 60% immediately. That’s a huge amount and a benefit to not only water saving but also energy costs as the energy used to heat the water reduces thanks to the reduced amount of water you need to heat.

And this doesn’t just apply to a new build. Adding an aerator to an older tap can also reduce water usage from 15 litres of water per minute to as little at 6 litres of water per minute. Add onto that the energy savings and it can be possible to see a significant reduction in both bills, meaning the tenant is not only reducing costs but also helping to save the planet.

A saving of over 60% across an entire building in a year can make a significant impact on rate reduction. If supported by eco-friendly heating alternatives for water heating like heat pumps or solar, energy and water rates can become almost non-existent. Luckily, an aerator can also be installed on even older style taps in just a few minutes meaning an entire building with multiple facilities could start benefitting from savings in under a day.

Apply this to the commercial build sector for the domestic market looking to build a new block of flats and the savings soon add up. Combine the simple water saving devices with solar thermal heat pumps or other renewable energy sources and the future looks bright.

It’s not just the commercial build for the domestic market which benefits. Commercial retail, factories and even supermarkets and shopping centres can all benefit from water saving. If the simple act of installing aerators on taps is the only thing they do, that 60% reduction in costs can easily be passed onto the owners meaning rates can be reduced making the space more affordable and ultimately, more attractive.

Water saving doesn’t just stop at aerators, timed flow taps for example also ensure water isn’t wasted, great for school settings or large retail environments. Combine these with aerators and your rates will reduce further.

There’s also an education role to be played here. Teaching plumbing and heating students the benefits of water saving right from college means it isn’t something they fall on by mistake or is led by the customer or even legislation. By working with the education sector to ensure the next generation of plumbing and heating engineers benefit from sound energy and water saving advice means that they’ll be fully equipped to make the right decisions to meet the governments targets.

But it isn’t just the new generation where education plays a part, traditional plumbing and heating engineers also need to be reminded and educated on the new technologies and advances in fittings and fixings which allow for water saving to happen. With heating engineers, this can easily be built into their gas safe reviews and continued training, for the plumbing sector, which has less re-education built in, it’s reliant on their own inquisitiveness but also that of suppliers and trade retailers to offer alternative measures when installers are placing orders.

The simple measure of advising a procurement agent for a large new project that they could be saving money by switching to this type or tap, using this type of fitting or valve will ensure that the widest audience is reached.

It’s worth noting that a lot of larger companies will have water saving policies in place and will be installing toilets which re-use the water, ensuring taps are turned off and water coolers are replaced with filtered water taps. However, this is presumed, and not insisted upon as with the New Homes Policy and carbon reducing targets.

If water were made more of a priority, we believe the savings for both the environment and the end user would be hugely beneficial and would also help to reach the government’s carbon reducing targets, quicker.

It’s a multi-faceted approach that’s need here, and one we wholly support.

Derek Aaronson is the CEO of Hart Home Group, the umbrella company for three retail websites; NotJustTaps, Lime Kitchen and Bathroom and Hart Plumbing Spares. www.harthomeinteriors.co.uk