Make sure you include water conservation at every stage of your construction project, from design, to planning and construction itself.
The Design Phase
The most cost effective way to deliver water efficiency is by incorporating water saving principles into all aspects of the project from inception.
- Prepare a water saving action plan for your project that includes actions during construction, appliances and plumbing to be installed, reuse potential, landscaping and rainwater utilisation.
- Ensure that water conservation and the protection of water quality is included in all tender and contractual documentation.
- Stay up to-date with the latest opportunities for water conservation design and appliances.
- If you are designing a greenfield site, try to use natural draining swales instead of costly concrete drainage pipes.
- Install drainage systems that allow the polluted ‘first flush’ to be diverted into trade waste and the clean water that follows to flow into tanks, pond systems or drainage swales.
- Establish water conservation as a key objective of the project and ensure that everyone involved in the project is aware of their responsibilities.
- Provide induction training for new employees and contractors so that they are also aware of their responsibilities and the benefits of the program.
- Keep the water management plan on site and ensure that all employees are aware of and have access to it.
- Discuss water management at regular meetings.
- Keep track of ongoing achievements.
- Promote your successes with press releases to local media and industry associations.
- Reduce evaporation by retaining as much vegetation as possible during construction.
- Install water efficient irrigation systems.
- Require workers to use a broom rather than a hose to clean paths and gutters. If water use is necessary, use high pressure hoses which are both water efficient and more effective cleaners.
- Use buckets of water to clean tools instead of running water.
Protect water quality
- Minimise disturbance of waterways, flood plains, vegetation and soil.
- Plan your activities so nothing from your site, such as soil, sand and cement slurry, will go down the gutter or drain and directly pollute the stormwater system, local creeks and rivers.
- Ensure cement works are not carried out on roads or paths so you avoid the need to wash the slurry away with water.
- Fence the site with temporary fencing (hording) and line it with hay bales. Geotextile silt fencing can also be used.
- Install and maintain erosion and sediment control devices. These devices can reduce water velocities on site by redirecting runoff at regular intervals with bales, contours, baffles, and mounds or by retaining vegetation.
- Cover or filter stormwater inlets and drains.
- Regularly clean and maintain all stormwater protection devices.
- Avoid the use of building materials such as asbestos or PVC, that will pollute water.
- Stockpile and cover building materials away from drains or roads.
It's important to plan for how people using your building and surrounds can conserve water in the long term. Consider some of these points
Plumbing installation and appliances
- Minimise the distance between hot water cylinders and taps (this will save water and the cost of unnecessary piping and energy costs).
- Specify low flow rates and maximum levels of fluctuation for fixtures.
- Choose plumbing fixtures that have built-in flow restricting devices.
- Install fixtures and appliances that comply with highest available water efficiency rating (e.g. 4.5/3L dual flush toilets, water efficient showerheads) or if possible, install composting toilets or waterless toilets and urinals. Check the Smart Approved WaterMark website or the WELS Rated Products Search for water efficient products.
- Collect rainwater for storage and re-use in tanks, ponds, dams, swimming pools or underground tanks.
- Consider the feasibility of greywater use - water from sinks, baths, showers or clothes washers (greywater) can be recycled to flush toilets or irrigate plants. Be aware that it is important to properly maintain these systems, as poor maintenance can lead to poor quality water which can be hazardous to human health and the environment.
- If greywater use is not feasible at the moment, design the plumbing to assist future adaptation.
Design gardens and landscapes for maximum water efficiencies
- Apply Xeriscape gardening (low-water use) principles to gardens and landscapes
- Use water efficient irrigation systems
- Mulch flower beds and around plants
- Maximise infiltration of water to recharge groundwater
- Install rainwater collectors and covers for pools to collect water and minimise water evaporation
- Indigenous (local) plants generally have low water requirements and are suited to local climatic conditions
Designing roads and carparks to collect and conserve water
- Use natural drainage swales instead of costly concrete drainage pipes in greenfield sites.
- Harvest rainwater from car parks by avoiding the use of kerbing and directing runoff into recharge zones. Recharge zones may be grassed or planted swales, permanent ponding basins or graded rock terracing.
- Design ground surfaces and paved areas to slope away from buildings and structures, this will enable water to run onto surrounding garden areas and recharge zones.