Conserving water in our Retirement Business

Since 2017 the Retirement Living portfolio has saved 3.26% in water use, equivalent to 17 Olympic-sized pools, reducing residents’ outgoings by over $180,000.

  • 15 May 2020
  • by
  • Lendlease Author Better Places

Australia continues to face the challenges of a changing climate, from bushfires to water scarcity and drought. In 2019, rainfall was the second lowest on record for Australia, with parts of Queensland and New South Wales experiencing significantly below average rainfall for several years - driving both environmental and economic hardship across the country.  

As a leading provider of property solutions, Lendlease understands that buildings play a critical role in conserving the precious resource of water. According to the United Nations Environment Programme – buildings are responsible for 12% of the world’s freshwater use. 

Across our Retirement Living villages we believe that saving water is both the right thing to do, as well as the smart thing to do in terms of reducing cost and supporting a lower cost of living for our most valued stakeholder – our residents.  We can save water in many ways, such as investigating  rainwater harvesting and reuse, retrofitting water efficient fittings and fixtures, water sensitive design, real-time water monitoring and the latest technologies available for leak detection. 

  • Did you know, that in 2019, the Retirement Living portfolio consumed 1.2m kL of potable water. That’s 495 Olympic-sized swimming pools and circa $5.3m in water utility cost for water, network and sewer charges
  • We are proud that since 2017 the portfolio has saved 3.26% in water use, equivalent to 17 Olympic-sized pools, reducing residents’ outgoings by over $180,000 in water bills across the portfolio.  Together with our residents, a business commitment to continuous improvement can deliver both environmental and economic value

Data Automation Delivers Real Value: Waterlogger and Dee Why Gardens 

It's true, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. As a business, we’ve been working hard at getting smarter information relating to water use at our villages. As of April 2020, 41 out of 72 of our villages have chosen to install ‘waterlogger’ devices on village water meters which monitor rate and volume of water flow on a 15-minute interval, alerting village management where water flow becomes unusually high. 

This data has helped villages across our portfolio identify and resolve leaks within days, saving residents in the order of $124,000 across 13 villages as at June 2019. At Dee Why Gardens, where the residents chose to install a waterlogger device in January 2019, which was provided and installed by leading Australian water consultancy Watergroup. 

This decision to install has already paid for itself, alerting the village management team of two significant leaks that were occurring in pipes deep in the ground, that would have otherwise been very challenging to identify.

Thanks to the waterlogger alert and the village management team’s swift response, the location of the most recent leak was found and repaired. Finding a leak which is estimated to have cost the village over $2,500 a month. The insight and quick response avoided serious cost and potential safety and damage issues had this underground leak gone on for a prolonged period.

Tim James, Village Manager of Dee Why, received leak alerts in March 2020, which showed unusually high water consumption Dee Why Gardens. Tim asked staff to look out for damp residues around the grounds and buildings, however nothing was obvious. Tim said: “I noticed the leak alerts continuing and water use increasing, without being able to observe the issue, I knew we needed to call in the experts for an assessment.”

Watergroup arrived and within 4 hours tracked the exact location of the leak, using high-tech sound detection devices that convert low-frequency leak noises into more audible frequency ranges.

The problem, a cracked pipe under seemingly dry concrete slabs on one of the Village outdoor paths. Tim shared this information with their local plumber who was easily able to dig underground, find the leak and successfully repair the pipe.  What could have been a serious, costly and long-term issue was identified, found and rectified within 5 weeks.