Water efficiency in Government operations
The Australian Government includes many agencies whose activities involve the consumption of water, whether in office buildings, on landscaped areas, in parks and protected areas or on Defence sites.
Water efficiency guide: office and public buildings
The Australian Government, with the governments of Queensland, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, has developed a new guide for improving the water efficiency of office buildings and public buildings. This guide contains case studies from water efficient buildings, and provides practical guidance on how to reduce water use and water wastage. The guide covers both technical and behavioural opportunities.
The Australian Government, and the governments of Queensland, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, are developing water intensity benchmarks for office buildings and public buildings. These benchmarks will identify what are average, better and best practice water intensities for these building types. Water intensity refers to the water consumed per square metre of space. Similar work has been conducted in the United Kingdom public estate as part of the Water Mark programme. The benchmarks provide guidance to building owners, managers and tenants on how their buildings measure up against similar sites nationwide, and are now available.
Leading by example
A number of agencies have already taken steps to reduce their water use:
The Royal Australian Mint made excellent progress on water efficiency in the 2002-03 financial year. Following a voluntary agreement reached with water provider ActewAGL to reduce water use by 15%, the Mint implemented a range of measures to reuse water from both the production process and the irrigation of grounds. The end result was a reduction of 50% in water use from the previous financial year.
The Department of Defence has recently launched a Sustainable Water Management Strategy. The intended outcomes of the strategy are to:
- minimise potable water use
- recycle wastewater
- reduce overall water usage, and
- eliminate and minimise environmental impacts on water supplies.
For more information, see the Defence environment web site: http://www.defence.gov.au/environment/
The Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts has implemented a range of water efficiency initiatives at its main site, the John Gorton Building in Canberra, including:
- installation of flow management devices for taps and cisterns
- use of energy-efficient hot and cold water units
- grey water system for water recycling, and
- recycled water is used to irrigate grounds through a root guard in-line sub-surface dripper system.
The refurbished building for the Australian Greenhouse Office (AGO) in Canberra features on-site treatment and reuse of both grey and black water. Designed to be water-autonomous in an average-rainfall year, recycled water is used in irrigation and toilets.