When specifying building products for social housing projects, ensuring that residents’ needs are fulfilled as well as meeting budgetary requirements can often feel like a balancing act. In addition, housing providers are now looking for ways in which to make their properties sustainable. Martin Walker, CEO for Methven, discusses how these complex challenges can be met.
Creating low carbon homes has been high on the agenda for the past few years, but now we are starting to see a shift from the Government towards supporting homes to reduce their water consumption. Earlier this year Environmental Secretary George Eustice outlined a 25-year Environment Plan, which sets out new regulations such as encouraging local authorities to adopt the new optional minimum building standard for water consumption in all new builds where there is a clear local need, such as in water stressed areas.
In addition, the guidance sets out that new homes will see a maximum of 110 litres of personal daily water consumption as a standard. To put this in perspective, the UK is facing severe water shortages with the average household using around 150 litres of water per person per day. Climate change and population growth are two of the key driving factors for this and statistics show that water used in the bathroom accounts for 40% of a household’s daily usage.
What can local authorities and housing associations do to make their properties more water efficient and reduce their water usage? Organisations such as Waterwise work closely with local authorities to provide advice and guidance on how to manage their water consumption.
Local authorities can benefit from a collaborative partnership with water companies to meet water saving targets. These include incentives such as Severn Trent offering any new-build home £353.00 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.
Simple steps a housing provider can take is by removing older, higher consumption products such as showerheads and retrofitting them with low consumption models. Historically, some water efficient showerheads, particularly those at entry level that are commonly constructed of white plastic, have gained a negative reputation with consumers for having poor performance and forcing compromise on the overall bathroom aesthetic.
Flow rates and spray patterns
While many of these products may have significantly reduced the flow rate of water used per minute, the overall function was so limited that individuals had to shower for up to twice as long, resulting in the same level of water usage as a normal showerhead. However, manufacturers such as Methven have introduced a new generation of high quality, visually appealing chrome showers that provide the lowest flow rates available, without compromising on functionality or aesthetics.
Methven currently holds three of the six worldwide patents for showering technology that offers water saving benefits. These include Satinjet, Aurajetô and Vjetô, shower spray technologies, which maximise each individual droplet of water to make contact with the skin in the most effective way. Spray patterns are crucial to the showering experience and Methven’s technologies are designed to provide more generous coverage than conventional needle jets.
The patented designs can also help save up to 50% on energy costs and up to 55% on the cost of water used in the shower, ultimately helping to reduce utility bills.
Methven has taken a different approach to many other manufacturers by engineering the spray experience based on a desired, limited flow rate to maximise the user experience. By working with flow regulator constraints from the outset, they have created various spray technologies that can save up to two thirds of water when compared to a power shower.
While making vast changes across housing stock to minimise our environmental impact on future generations might not be achievable in the short term, implementing simple changes across developments will help not only save money in the longer term but also protect the country’s depleting water supply.