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Every Drop Counts at Regis

Regis Towers has successfully reduced water usage by 44 litres per bedroom per day over a period of 18 months - creating cost savings of 35,000 per annum. A focus on monitoring and management continues to highlight opportunities for improvement.

Regis Towers is a residential complex in Sydney’s CBD. The complex has 3 towers, 646 apartments, and is managed by Strata Title Management.

In response to high water usage, Regis Towers applied for the City of Sydney’s Building Operations Grant focusing on monitoring and reducing water usage in residential strata buildings. Funding was provided to track the main water meter, install sub-metering across the three towers, monitor commercial and common area water usage and the six cooling towers on site.

SUMS Group commenced the installation of data loggers in February 2016. At this time benchmark water usage at Regis was 591 litres per bedroom per day. In the first 2 months after installation, Management (with the assistance of SUMS Group and on-site plumbers) identified and rectified several main water leaks occurring in common areas.

An Example

An example of high water usage occurred early in 2017. High water usage was detected in Castlereagh Towers and a detailed investigation finally revealed a leaking fire sprinkler located in a ventilation shaft. Due to the nature of this leak the problem was concealed behind the wall and the problem would not have been detected without SUMS online access to water usage data.

Figure 1. SUMS Graph illustrating water usage before and after concealed leak is rectified

The following graph illustrates high water usage while the hidden leak is occurring and the subsequent drop in water usage after the problem has been resolved.

The Outcome

The outcome over the past 18 months has been significant. Today, strata and building managers have:

  • an improved understanding of common area water usage
  • a better grasp of the complex’ hydraulic layout
  • a solid relationship with site plumbers resulting in a speedy response time from the initial reporting of a leak to first onsite inspection by plumbers (max 5 hours)
  • an expectation that approximately 2 in-apartments leaks will be reported daily
  • a system for regular physical inspections of all common areas
  • ongoing monitoring of plant rooms and equipment to identify issues and prioritise maintenance
  • a better knowledge of localised high water pressure areas
  • 24 hour online access to water usage data on the SUMS portal including automatic alerts

All of these factors combined to reduce benchmark water usage to 547 L/bedroom/day.

Next Steps

Regis Towers will continue to work towards improved sustainability and building efficiencies.  As a first step, Strata Title Management and onsite Building Managers have signed up to the Smart Green Apartments (SGA) program to create resource savings (energy, water and waste). Over the past year SGA has provided access to sustainability resources, technical support, SUMS portal training and networking.

Regis Towers’ plans for the coming year include:

  • inspiring water awareness amongst residents in an effort to reduce consumption
  • improving the imbalance in water pressure across the complex to avoid high pressure areas in pipes (a contributing factor for burst water pipes)
  • introducing Sydney Water’s Waterfix program to further reduce in-apartment water usage

Objective

The table below illustrates Benchmark Categories for water use per bedroom per day.

Figure 2 Benchmark water usage in apartments – table courtesy of Sydney Water and BMT WBM Pty Ltd

The goal is to reduce benchmark water usage to be closer to recommended benchmarks of 300 L/bedroom/day. This is an admirable target for the Strata and Building Managers at Regis Towers as this is a highly tenanted building with a large number of serviced apartments attracting primarily short terms stays. However, having already reduced water usage by 7.5% over 18 months, and with constructive plans for further improvements, it seems likely that this complex may succeed.

 

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