repairs-and-maintenance

Reducing water consumption in strata 

Understanding water consumption in strata apartment buildings

NABERS research indicates that 20% of the world’s available drinking water is consumed by buildings. According to Sydney Water, 87 percent of water use in apartments occurs within each apartment. This ultimately means for a strata building to reduce its overall water consumption, individual residents have to collectively take action.

Individual sub-metering of water was only made a legal requirement of connecting to water to the system in September 2014. This means that any building older than this generally has one master shared meter which is billed to individual units based on unit entitlement, rather than what they actually use. For buildings without individual meters, water usage for both common property and individual units is paid by the owners corporation and each owner contributes to this via their levies. Therefore, water usage expenses in an apartment complex are generally responsible for a large portion of operating costs.

Owners are only allowed to pass on water bills to tenants when consumption is metered so tenants, therefore, have limited incentive to reduce their consumption.

WHAT CAN BE DONE TO DECREASE WATER CONSUMPTION IN STRATA? 

Inform and educate your residents about reducing water usage

Despite many tenants having no financial incentive to reduce their consumption of water as the owner generally pays through levies, more and more people are understanding the benefits of sustainability and are aware of misuse of scarce resources such as water. By putting some effort towards helping them with ways to conserve water, you might be surprised by the results. If you have a community Facebook page you could publish water-saving tips such as limiting showers, turning off the tap while brushing your teeth, buying white goods such as washing machines with higher water rating symbols, and encourage renters to report leaks.

Installing low-flow fixtures

One of the best ways to conserve water in an apartment building is to make sure all the apartments and every common, public area have low-flow fixtures. Toilets, sinks, and showerheads that use less water are excellent choices because they reduce how much water gets used automatically, without having to think about it. If you have investment units, ensure your apartments are fitted with low flow fixtures that will ensure you keep your levies down. The showerhead is the most rewarding to retrofit with a low flow system as its payback time and water savings are the largest.

Upgrade to a high rated water consumption equipment

This is one of the easiest ways to conserve water and begin to save money in the long term. The Water Rating label uses a 6-star rating to show how water-efficient the product is. The more stars, the more water-efficient it is. White goods such as dishwashers, washing machines as well as showers, taps, and toilets all have water rating labels.  The Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme is an Australian government initiative.

Saving water in landscaping 

Saving water in landscaping by removing weeds so only plants use the water, use mulch around plants to avoid evaporation and keep weeds to a minimum, water landscape 2 to 3 times a week instead of every day, use rainwater if you have a tank, and choose native plants that require less watering.

Recycle rainwater and greywater

Rainwater and greywater can be used to water lawns and landscaping. If you don’t have a rainwater tank. This could be something the owners corporation may wish to consider. Section 108 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 allows owners corporations to add to, alter, or erect a new structure on common property for improving or enhancing the common property. Talk to your strata manager about getting it on your next meeting’s agenda.

Sydney Water Waterfix Strata

WaterFix® Strata delivers large-scale, cost-effective water savings to inefficient residential strata-managed buildings. Sydney Water will work with your strata manager to conduct an audit against benchmarks to determine the water efficiency of your building. Once they get the go-ahead, they will work with the strata manager to book appointments with each apartment owner to repair leaks, install water-efficient devices in each apartment, and fix leaks in common areas. More information can be found at sydneywater.com.au 

Retrofitting individual meters

Individual meters make people more accountable for their water usage however retrofitting individual meters for existing buildings can be a costly exercise and may not always be feasible. If you would like to explore your options, contact your Strata Plus strata manager.

See a leaky tap or pipe? An apartment building is a community, and what affects the building affects the residents. If you see a leak from a broken sprinkler, washing machine, or pipe, for example, report it immediately to your strata or building manager.

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