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Water conservation in the washroom

02 September 2019

Liam Greenall explains how you can cut your water bills and do the right thing for the environment in your washroom

Why should your organisation care about water usage? You know you need water and it’s very much an essential for your day-to-day operation. But because water isn’t something you order on a supply and demand basis, you may not be aware of just how much you’re using. Even if you are, you may not realise how much extra you’re paying out for excess water usage – money you’re quite literally pouring down the drain. 

The stats alone are quite an eye opener with reports indicating wasted water costs UK businesses an astounding £3.5bn a year. Conserving water is of course the right thing to do from a sustainability perspective but it’s also the right thing to do for your bottom line. 

The biggest focus for water savings should be the washroom. An average employee uses 50 litres of water each working day with 90% of water usage in the washroom. phs water-saving consultants estimate that a few simply water minimisation measures can cut water usage in the washroom by up to 70%. Here’s how you can achieve this: 

Do the groundwork

Before introducing efficiency measures, get a water-usage audit. This will identify issues such as potential leakages and inefficient systems which will save immediately once rectified. You’ll also be able to set a base level by identifying how much water you are using so you can analyse savings once measures are in place. ​

Turn off the tap

If you have twist-on taps you’re likely to be paying out for when they’re left running. Push-on taps can solve this problem instantly – and you can easily get your existing taps converted. Taking things one step further, you can reduce the flow of water from each tap with a flow-saving insert which dramatically increases the ratio of surface area to volume, changing the structure of the water. This will cut tap flow from up to 10 litres per minute down to 1.7 litres – saving water while still being effective for handwashing. 

Be flush wise with your toilet

An average toilet will use up to 12 litres of water per flush but that much water isn’t always needed. Adjusting the quantity using a flush control will reduce water consumption by three litres. Based on three flushes a day across 240 working days a year, that equates to a saving of 2,160 litres per person per year.

Stop your urinals working when you’re not using them: Uncontrolled urinals will automatically flush every 15-30 minutes, 24 hours a day. But when you consider how much of the day they’re not even being used, that’s a lot of water being wasted. Introducing intelligent flush controls means your urinals will only flush when you need them to. Infra-red technology detects the presence of the first customer or employee and begins working as soon as it's needed. This measure has helped a city council cut their urinal water usage by 96%, delivering significant savings. 

Set a target – and educate

Be bold and set water usage targets and encourage widespread involvement to achieve this. Use signage to help educate employees on the importance and practices of water efficiency. Once staff understand the problem and the benefits of conserving water, you’ll be more likely to have their buy-in and active participation in helping to reduce water usage. 

We live in an environment where we expect a constant flow of water without question. But water is a precious and limited resource while demand continues to grow. This makes it essential for everyone to play their part in conserving water. The good news is that this also makes financial sense, delivering savings on an organisation’s water bills. What’s more, many efficiency measures are cost effective and quickly pay for themselves in savings meaning you’re getting a speedy return on investment. This means that doing your bit for the environment is not only easy but makes financial sense, making everyone a winner. 

Liam Greenall is strategic business development manager of phs Group