Top 5 office water saving tips and devices
Water is an extremely abundant resource. Over 70% of the surface of the planet is water. The problem is that most of it is sea water and therefore very difficult / expensive to extract and use for consumptive purposes. As the global population continues to grow and get wealthier, more and more people are becoming connected to the water / sewerage grid, leading to an exponential growth in demand for clean water. This, coupled with the unprecedented increase in droughts caused by climate change, has meant that consumptive water is fast becoming a scarce resource. (image attribution: Danilo Rizzuti)
As a sustainable business taking action to reduce water consumption is a great way to improve your environmental performance. This article outlines my top 5 office water saving tips and devices that any business can quickly and effectively implement to reduce consumption and save on water bills.
1. Hippo the Water Saver – saves water each time you flush - flushing a toilet uses a significant amount of water. Toilets fitted since 2001 use 4-6 litres of water per flush. Most have a two-button dual-flush operation. Toilets fitted before 2001 typically use 7.5-9 litres per flush. Installling a water displacement device or Hippo can be used to save 2-3 litres per flush.
2. Tap aerators / faucet aerators - water usually leaves a tap (or faucet) in one large flow. This means that water is often wasted. Tap aerators break up the flow of water by spreading the stream of water into many little droplets. It does this by restricting the flow through small mesh-like holes and thus increasing the pressure. Tap aerators can reduce the flow rate of an average tap by 60%. In other words, from 15 l/min to 6 l/min.
3. Waterless urinals – Urinals suffer from two main issues, blockages and odour. To prevent these, most urinals use frequent flushing (sometimes up to every three minutes). Blockages are caused by uric acid build-up (a by-product of urine) and limescale (from water flushing). Waterless urinals act to prevent blockages by not using water. There are 3 main types of waterless urinals namely, microbiological, barrier and valve systems. Microbiological uses microbes to break urine down into its constituent parts. Barrier systems use an oil based fluid to prevent the odour reaching the bathroom. Valve systems use a one-way plastic valve that when closed prevents odour reaching the bathroom. All three systems are effective in conserving water. Waterless urinals are great for offices that have hard water. I recommend using a Eco-Cube Waterless Urinal Maintenance Starter Kit if you install a waterless urinal
4. Rainwater harvesting – rainwater harvesting is the collection or rain, typically from a roof-top, that can be used for consumptive purposes. The amount of water collected is dependent on the intensity of rain, the area of the roof-top and the size of the collection facility. Rainwater harvesting is a great way to become virtually independent of water supplied off the grid.
5. Grey water recycling – grey water recycling systems use waste water from an activity (e.g. showering) to supply another activity (e.g. toilet flushing). Installing a grey water system requires re-piping of water from a shower, bath or basin to the toilet cistern. The toilet cistern itself is unique as it will empty automatically if it becomes too full or the water is older than 24 hours (i.e. preventing bacterial growth). In addition, most grey water toilet systems use other precautionary measures such as low ultraviolet light to discourage the build up of bacteria. The system is relatively expensive from a retro-fit perspective but entirely feasible in a new build / renovation scenario.
That’s it for my favourite office water saving tips and devices. If you would like to find out more information about rainwater harvesting or grey water recycling check out the Environment Agency website