Martin Walker of Methven shares advice on the types of showering technologies to specify to successfully reduce developments’ water usage without compromising on performance or aesthetics.
In 1960 around 85 litres of water were used per person, per day. Fast forward to 2021, and this figure is around 150 litres and rising. The latest research from Waterwise estimates that over two billion litres of water are used each day across Britain through showering, the equivalent to almost 800 Olympic size swimming pools. Simply put, the UK is facing significant water scarcity.
The country’s current infrastructure relies on historic Victorian plumbing and, while revolutionary at the time, it is ageing fast and causing significant leaks and water loss. Water-stressed areas in the south of the country are under the most pressure. There is however a role we can all play in significantly improving water efficiency.
Bathrooms are the biggest source of daily water output for residential developments, and housebuilders should now take the opportunity to take a proactive approach to water efficiency in order to future-proof projects.
Current Building Regulations require all new dwellings to achieve water efficiency of 125 litres per person per day, with an optional requirement to achieve water efficiency of 110 litres per person per day, under the latest version of Approved Document G. It is widely anticipated that this optional requirement will be adopted under Building Regulations.
Therefore, by specifying solutions that adhere to the Government’s ‘optional’ requirement to achieve water efficiency of 110 litres, professionals can not only ensure the property is compliant with current regulations, but simultaneously support future homeowners in proactively reducing their long-term water and energy usage.
Water companies are keen to support housebuilders in reducing the water consumption of each dwelling, and are now offering additional incentives to deliver against these targets. For example, Severn Trent is offering anyone building a new home £353 off their clean water infrastructure charge if they have built to 110 litres or less PPPD, while Southern Water is offering a total discount of £230 per property.
These cost saving benefits will also be passed on to the homeowner. It’s no secret that the housing development market is crowded, with a requirement of up to 345,000 new homes a year, yet general consumers are becoming much more environmentally savvy, extending to the homes they are purchasing. Therefore, developers are now looking for ways to meet this need, while creating a point of difference, and by specifying water efficient fixtures and fittings, it will not only help to protect the nation’s water availability, but also help to reduce homeowners’ future water bills.
This can be achieved by selecting showering solutions that feature low flow rates. However, while successfully reducing water and energy usage is the leading consideration, this shouldn’t be achieved at the expense of performance or visual appeal.
Historically, there has been a reluctance within the industry to embrace this change, as there was a misconception that water efficient products would lead to this compromise. However, technology has come a long way and manufacturers are placing a significant focus on creating showers and tapware that have been designed upon the principles of form, function and finish.
With water-conscious manufacturers now designing to ensure that specifiers no longer have to sacrifice form and function to achieve water efficiency, it is more crucial than ever that these industries work together to take a collective approach to protect the UK’s water supply.
Martin Walker is CEO at Methven