Large areas of the UK are facing hosepipe bans, but with pipe leaks responsible for over 3 billion litres of water being lost every day, is the commercial property sector a major missing culprit in water wastage?
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A Temporary Use Ban (TUB), better known as a hosepipe ban, restricts the use of hosepipes, sprinklers and pressure washers that are connected to domestic customers’ mains water supply.
Essentially, it’s a way to reduce water demand, which is necessary after the UK’s recent very low levels of rainfall. The measures are intended to help the country maintain essential supplies for drinking and sanitation uses.
"It’s time for the commercial real estate sector to step up and address the sheer scale at which it wastes water every day from dripping taps and leaky pipes, to unnecessary water usage when complying – inefficiently – with regulation.”
Senior Vice President, Infogrid
However, Ross Sheil, Senior Vice President at Infogrid, believes that the onus on consumers to conserve water is missing the bigger picture: “It’s time for the commercial real estate sector to step up and address the sheer scale at which it wastes water every day from dripping taps and leaky pipes, to unnecessary water usage when complying – inefficiently – with regulation.”
Picture: a photograph of a Ross Sheil. Image Credit: Infogrid
Are Hosepipe Bans Sufficient?
According to analysis from The Telegraph, hosepipe bans only save around 50 per cent of the water that is already lost to leaks every day. Data from regulator Ofwat shows that pipe leaks are responsible for over 3 billion litres of water being lost every day in the UK. With the UK using roughly 15.3 billon litres of water every day, a hosepipe ban is predicted to only save around 1.5 billon litres of this.
A leaking toilet wastes between 215 and 400 litres of clean drinking water on average every day, according to Waterwise. Between 5 and 8 per cent of toilets are estimated to be leaking, adding up to around 400 million litres of water leaking from UK toilets every day.
Legionella Compliance also a Water-Wasting Culprit?
Ross also identified legionella compliance as a practice where engineers are routinely checking and running taps, needlessly flushing excess water down the drain:
“One of the key ways to minimise the risk of legionella is by running water, which happens naturally in inhabited spaces, so if you have the data to prove such activity is in fact occurring you won’t need engineers to routinely flush the taps where it isn’t necessary. Data has the ability to empower building managers and help them reduce costs, while simultaneously keeping on top of compliance without wasting water. Remote monitoring also helps to save other critical resources such as CO2 emissions from reduced car journeys to site.
Tackling Water Wastage With Water-Saving Innovations and Data Analysis
For Ross, problems in commercial water waste link to a sector-wide slowness to adopt new technologies: “Let’s face it, as a sector real estate has been sluggish to innovate. While other industries have been swept up in the tide of digital transformation, the majority of commercial buildings are still living in the dark ages. Most building data is gathered by humans visiting sites; manually checking equipment and taking notes on a clipboard. Such processes are not only wildly inefficient, but they actually waste even more water.”
As well as improving their data collection processes, building owners can also invest in washroom innovations that focus on water-saving. Richard Braid, Managing Director of Cistermiser and Keraflo, explains: “Most recently, we’ve launched a solution which tackles head-on our sector’s challenge of leaky loos. The introduction of the EasyflushEVO range is set to revolutionise WC flushing by bringing together previously unattainable benefits of non-touch and leak-free flushing. The patented flush design means there is no flush seal below the waterline, so unlike traditional flush valves, it will not leak due to debris, scale or seal degradation. The EasyflushEVO is calculated to save up to 78,475 litres of water per unit per annum.
Picture: a photograph of a toilet cistern. Image Credit: Cistermiser
“Although it may not single-handedly solve the water wastage problem, it goes a long way to raising standards and is just one of the many highly innovative approaches we’ve taken to help address this industry-wide problem.”
Ross added: “The results speak for themselves for those that have taken the plunge and invested in technology for their building estate for the sake of a more sustainable future. For example, a leading UK bank now saves 8.1 million litres of water a year across 550 sites due to remote monitoring, automation and advanced AI.
“Real estate company JLL has also reported saving 600 litres of water per tap annually by automating legionella compliance processes through Infogrid’s technologies. If all commercial properties take action, we could save a lot more water than a standard hosepipe pan.”
Picture: a photograph of a wall-mounted outside tap with a hose attachment. Image Credit: Unsplash
Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 01 September 2022
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