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Since adoption of the BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) standard for major projects over a decade ago the University’s buildings have been designed to achieve a 40% reduction on a typical consumption baseline.  

In simple terms, this means that water consumption reduction is being actively designed into new builds and refurbishments. This takes the form of more efficient appliances e.g. low flow taps and showers, and dual flush toilets. Behaviour change has also been considered, targeting a move away from water intensive gardening and irrigation to more drought tolerant planting 

Following our usual data driven approach to sustainability projects, the Sustainability Team has undertaken research of our estate-wide water consumption and identified some areas for further investigation: 

  • We found problems with over engineering storage tanks1 which means our Water Safety team has to flush these tanks with more water to prevent legionella growth. 
  • We have updated our Design and Standards Brief documents for building contractors to build tanks only to the required size.

In the future, we have plans to streamline our water purchase agreements so that we can maximise the benefits of working together with a water supplier that shares our ambitions for water efficiency and will work with us to provide the data we need to better understand our water usage.  

Better data will underpin our water management plan, built on an improved baselining of water consumption throughout the operational estate, so that we can then identify areas to implement efficiency initiatives, building on our previous research. 

1. This means making them bigger to compensate for not being sure of the correct value. In this instance it means the amount of water required in storage tanks to ensure they replenish the system effectively. Then if you want to flush them out completely you have to use ( or waste more water) than you would have to if they were the right (smaller) size.