Keri Reynolds, marketing manager at PHS Washrooms, explains that saving water at work is a way for companies to save time, money and energy, and to achieve environmental targets

Much of today’s headlines are dominated by climate change and other environmental issues. And, the subject looks set to stay firmly on the agenda for media organisations, politicians and the public. Wherever you live and whatever you do, everyone is touched by topics relating to the sustainability theme. From kerbside recycling, to the location of wind farms, to walking buses, ‘green’ issues are something of which we are all aware.

It is therefore no surprise that businesses are taking energy and the environment more and more seriously as the consequences of poor energy efficiency are having a greater impact on the bottom line.

As the Environment Agency says in its Waterwise publication, ‘The environment is increasingly becoming a business issue as customers become more environmentally aware.’ Sustainability is no longer a mere buzzword to which companies can pay lip service – it’s an essential part of trading, and every company that wants to survive and succeed now includes it as part of their corporate social responsibility strategy.

Water management tips

By taking a ‘greener’ approach your company, customers, staff and the wider community all benefit. In its Waterwise publication, the Environment Agency states that many organisations pay higher water costs than necessary, and that by implementing simple water management plans, firms could reduce their water consumption by up to 80%. The agency also gives some tips on conserving water in your business, including:

  • Always monitor how much water you use and compare use on a regular basis. Manufacturing companies should compare water use against production output and service sector companies should compare use against staff numbers.
  • Ensure pipes are well insulated against frost.
  • Keep water using equipment well maintained and check it periodically for leaks.
  • Look at alternative water sources such as using rainwater and greywater (waste water generated from domestic activities such as laundry, dishwashing and bathing).
  • Encourage staff to report leaks and ensure any leaks are repaired quickly.
  • When buying new equipment take its water efficiency into account.

Fit water minimising controls where possible e.g. push taps, flow regulator/restrictors, cistern displacement devices, spray nozzles on hoses, low flush toilets and sensor activated urinal flushing.

Putting plans in place

To begin any sort of business journey you need a plan – and energy saving is no different. The Environment Agency gives advice on setting up simple water management plans, which will set your company on the right track. The six key points it recommends are:

  • Obtain management and staff support.
  • Find out what the true cost of water is to your organisation.
  • Identify your water use.
  • Reassess your water use.
  • Identify and evaluate your water efficiency measures and write a plan.
  • Put your plan into action and report your results.

Checking water bills from the past two or three years will reveal annual consumption and costs, and any seasonal variations or unexplained increases should also be noted. Depending on the type of organisation you run, energy (e.g. for heating and pumping water), treatment and maintenance costs may also need to be added to the mix in order to identify potential areas where savings can be made.

Increasing energy efficiency

The washroom is somewhere that energy saving schemes can easily be put into action by installing products that are economical with water and power, yet still deliver performance and hygiene standards. Hand dryers that use considerably less energy than ‘conventional’ models are a smart choice, also dispensing with the need for paper towels, saving more money and resources. Third party endorsements are also a good way to gauge effectiveness, so look for products that are approved by organisations such as the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS) and the Carbon Trust. 

Companies that have used energy saving products report that they deliver tangible results without compromising on performance. Ben Lain, operations manager for The Lewis Partnership, said that the installation of WC flush controls, “has been a really positive step in improving our environmental rating. The installation was very efficient and there has been no loss in water pressure or compromising of flush hygiene.”

Cost efficiencies are another huge benefit. Gordon Ogilvie, property and estates manager for Elwood College, Scotland, has calculated that the college should make a projected saving of over £4,000 in the first year, following the installation of energy saving hand dryers.

By installing this sort of equipment in washrooms, companies can start to achieve their business and environmental ambitions. So, for companies that want to lower their operating costs, become more efficient and do their bit to save the planet, water management in washrooms is a step in the right direction.