Water sustainability & housing development

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An example of a WELS (Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme) Sticker.

An example of a WELS (Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme) Sticker.

House design and planning is vital when it comes to water efficiency.

The first step is for councils and state governments to effectively and efficiently locate new residential areas for building homes. Residential areas need to be relatively close to existing water infrastructure and water supplies. New pumping capacity is expensive and energy intensive, so new developments a long way from anywhere is very inefficient. New bores tapping underground supplies can add more and more pressure on the water table leading to increased salinity.

Once residential areas are correctly evaluated for water sustainability it’s up to the developers and then the owners. Developers need to be conscious of water usage when planning for parks and other open spaces used to enhance the residential development. Thirsty non-native plants and large water features can be avoided and instead use native flora which generally require less water.

For homeowners and builders, new appliances should be as water efficient as possible. Washing machines, showerheads, dishwashers and toilets should all be very water efficient with modern design and technology. Lawns can be artificial or have underground watering systems; gardens can also be smaller in general.

Building designers and architects should endeavor to incorporate water saving systems such as grey water re-use and rainwater storage into their house designs. Large above ground or below ground tanks can add value to a home without detracting from design or style. It is much more cost effective to incorporate these water saving features into the initial design of a build rather than trying to retrofit them. Online galleries from major builders are a great place to find a range of modern townhouse designs that incorporate the latest water and energy saving features without sacrificing style.

Designers also no longer need to sacrifice comfort or style. Just because a shower head or toilet is water efficient does not mean functionality or style has been sacrificed. New technology is constantly improving form and feature whilst using less and less water. Water features should also be given a pass. Even if it looks absolutely fantastic, if water restrictions come in then it won’t. Clients might also lose face with friends for having a wasteful water feature.

When building new or renovation always keep water in mind with your design.