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Wise up on water use in the public sector to improve risk management and reduce energy costs – in winter – and beyond

Whether you’re a facilities team, business manager, sustainability manager, energy manager – or in another role – water is an essential part of any public sector operation. Looking closer at water use at a site during the year can have a range of benefits for organisations –large andsmall – includinglower utility costs and can support the progress being made to net zero.

Savings can stack up soon for the public sector through little actions to see where and how water is used at buildings – and harnessing people power at sites. 

Water Plus, the largest water retailer in the UK and a multi-award winner for work with organisations around water use, shows how to tap into more benefits around water that’s used in the public sector.

Knowing what water’s used – and where – is key to spot opportunities

Being more aware of water that’s used helps organisations reduce water waste and risks to supply interruptions on site water pipes. This webinar, with the Public Sector Sustainability Association (PSSA), covers some of the steps – and other savings and benefits seen, through looking closer at – and managing – water more effectively.

A range of more than 40 sites in England, including in the public sector, have seen an average 34.6% water-saving in 2023, after water efficiency audits were completed and water efficiency devices were installed.

If less water needs to be heated, or less moved around by pumps at a site, for example across a hospital or council-owned buildings, then there’s an energy saving too. Less water used overall also means fewer carbon emissions, under Scope 3, so helps with progress towards net zero targets.

Whether it’s for Estates Returns information for councils, hospitals and PCTs, or to help track reductions in water use in general, noting down meter readings regularly, if the meter is safe to access, and providing these online, is worth doing to track use and spot any unexpected changes. There is also technology that can help track use and update bills, reducing estimates on use.

Engage more eyes, to hear water-saving ideas and issues

Staff and visitors can play a big part of the water management approach at a public sector site.

A Sustainability Day at an NHS Trust this year engaged doctors, nurses and other site staff around water and the environment. Water Plus were at the day, and a quiz of staff at the event found a lot got the questions right on how much water was used in different ways and some were already limiting shower times. Staff were also very conscious of costs and how they were using water and gas as Water Plus highlighted the links around water-saving and wider benefits. Along with other communications and virtual meetings, Key Account Managers at Water Plus have visited more than 10 public sector sites in 2023 to help organisations with proactive water management and areas for efficiencies and energy saving.

Water leaks at public sector buildings could cause a supply interruption, so being on the lookout for water issues is wise, whatever the time of year it is.

It’s important to consider if your staff and those visiting or using your site would know who to alert if they saw a water leak.

Regular checks and maintenance can reduce water risks

Regular servicing and maintenance of taps, toilets and urinals – as well as any water efficiency devices in buildings – is important – so it’s known they’re working properly and no water’s being wasted.

Cold weather and changing temperatures can make a burst pipe more likely at sites, so tracking water use helps reduce risks and keeps your public sector building functioning and providing services. The changes in temperatures can cause ground movements that can affect underground pipes at sites – and even a small trickle, or drips on a tap, can cause a pipe to freeze.

Dive into more detail on options to tap into with water 

Changing approaches to water use, at sites, doesn’t need to be complicated, or costly.

Scott MacIndeor, who heads up the Advanced Services team at Water Plus, which won a  Global Gold for Water Management in the Green World Awards in 2023, said: “On a day-to-day level, innovation with water can be as easy as a small change at a site, including raising awareness amongst staff and visitors, to be wiser with water use, reduce use where possible and highlight areas where improvements can be made or where any tap or pipe issues can be raised.

“There are a variety of solutions out there around how water is used – and it’s important to understand what would work best for your site when it comes to water efficiency measures – and seek experts for projects and installing kit. It’s also vital to make sure any changes around how water is used complies with the relevant laws and byelaws in place, like the Water Fittings Regulations, Water Industry Act and others.”

Scott continued: “We manage the water and wastewater services for many public sector organisations, including some of the largest and most diverse in the UK – such as councils, schools, colleges, universities, hospitals and the emergency services – so we understand their different needs and drivers and we’ve helped organisations make significant savings across their portfolio, reducing water use and contributing to their sustainability aims and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

Water Plus, which won a UK Customer Satisfaction Award in 2023 and two National Sustainability Awards in October 2022 for work with sites around their water, is highlighting water efficiency and water pipe winter messages, to help organisations of all sizes – under their #BeWiseOnWater awareness campaign.

To find out more about how Water Plus can help public sector water-saving, email , with the subject heading “PSSA”. Further information can also be found on the Water Plus website and on the Water Plus social media channels.

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