How easy is it to reduce water consumption?

Reducing water usage at a major retail establishment may seem like a complex challenge but in the case of Wrexham's Eagles Meadow shopping centre, cutting consumption was "not exactly rocket science".

After a major campaign last year to reduce water, Eagles Meadow shopping centre in Wrexham Wales has managed to reduce its consumption by 35% year-on-year, or 1.8 million litres. This reduction has been achieved through a fairly simple combination of monitoring consumption through regular meter readings and bringing staff on board to ensure waste is kept to a minimum.

Speaking to edie, centre manager Kevin Critchley explains that the team at Eagles Meadow “basically cut usage through good maintenance, good monitoring and good management in that we respond to problems such as leaks quickly. Better still we all keep an eye on the systems to ensure that we prevent potential problems”.

Water arrives through an 8000 metre tank which is then distributed around the commercial part of the shopping centre through a pumping system. Each individual shop unit in the centre is installed with its own sub meter. Other areas of the centre, such as the public toilets, the large water feature and the loading bays also include sub meters.

“By bringing in a constant review we are able to monitor our consumption. We do readings on all our meters, about 15, which we read every month,” he says.

However, staff enthusiasm for reducing water consumption has seen the centre locate and fix issues promptly to avoid water waste escalating.

“We have our cleaning and security staff report if we have any taps that are running or dripping or toilets that are running, or pipes that might be leaking or anywhere there is waste,” he adds.

“I can’t monitor the entire centre so we rely on our staff who are fantastic and enthusiastic about reducing usage. So from our side if there is anything contributing to wasting water we very quickly get it fixed”.

However, the 35% reduction is strictly from management controlled measures of the centre and does not include outside factors such as water usage specifically from retail tenants.

“Areas that we manage to save, the 35% reduction, is not the whole centre it is the stuff that we can control – if a tenant suddenly stopped using water it would be wrong for us to say that the centre consumption has gone down this amount,” says Critchley.

Other areas of improvement have included the upgrade of facility equipment such as tap faucets to ensure the centre is as efficient as possible. But the reductions have come through “common sense” and basic efficiency measures.

“It’s not really rocket science. It’s about using as little as you possibly can and reduce the waste by as much as possible. It’s also about constant monitoring. For example, the cleaning staff check the toilets a few times a day and if you get taps that drip 24 hours a day, it may not seem like a lot but before you know it you’ve used an extra 10 cubic metres of water.

“It’s really about everybody doing their best to reduce – the next stage is looking at where else we can make savings because we’ve got to a point where other than turning things off completely, which we can’t do, bigger reductions are going to be difficult to achieve,” he adds.

In addition to water reductions, the shopping centre also recycles 92% of the waste produced, which surpasses Welsh Government targets and has cut electricity consumption by 11%, again through simple “common sense measures”.

Leigh Stringer

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