De­sign for wa­ter con­ser­va­tion

Monthly Chronicle - - Home & Living -

In th­ese drought-rid­den times it’s never been more im­por­tant to in­clude ways to in­cor­po­rate wa­ter con­ser­va­tion into your home’s de­sign.

And whether it’s a new build or one you’re al­ready liv­ing in, it’s never too late either, ac­cord­ing to Archi­cen­tre Aus­tralia.

“As with all sus­tain­abil­ity mea­sures, wa­ter con­ser­va­tion is en­hanced by con­sid­er­ing a site’s nat­u­ral at­tributes, in­clud­ing slope, soil type, cli­mate and com­pat­i­bil­ity with either a pro­posed or ex­ist­ing dwelling,” Archi­cen­tre Aus­tralia Di­rec­tor Peter Ge­orgiev says.

“In­cor­po­rat­ing wa­ter con­ser­va­tion mea­sures in the de­sign phase of a new home or apart­ment and in the de­sign of ad­di­tions makes sure ben­e­fit is gained by the oc­cu­pants.

“The ex­ter­nal de­sign should con­sider the site’s nat­u­ral at­tributes and where ap­pro­pri­ate in­cor­po­rate grey wa­ter sys­tems, rain­wa­ter tanks, suit­able gut­ter­ing and down­pipes and wa­ter ef­fi­cient gar­dens – pos­si­bly even fea­ture ponds.

“Ponds can in­clude reed beds which pro­vide a nat­u­ral grey wa­ter re­cy­cling sys­tem that use plant roots in a bed of gravel to aer­ate the wa­ter and break­down bac­te­ria.”

In the gar­den mulch should be used to help re­tain mois­ture, plants should be low main­te­nance and not wa­ter-needy, and paving or decks should be con­sid­ered as an al­ter­na­tive to large lawns which are al­ways thirsty in sum­mer.

“In dry pe­ri­ods, plants should be given a long soak once a week and in time, they’ll de­velop bet­ter root sys­tems and even­tu­ally need less wa­ter­ing.”

Land­scape ar­chi­tects have par­tic­u­lar knowl­edge re­gard­ing ap­pro­pri­ate plant species, paving ma­te­ri­als, heights of paving rel­a­tive to in­ter­nal floor lev­els, deck­ing, en­ter­tain­ing ar­eas and other out­door ef­fects.

“It’s wise to seek their ad­vice on ef­fec­tive, sus­tain­able and com­ple­men­tary strate­gies for ex­ter­nal de­sign and work as land­scape trades­peo­ple of­ten fo­cus on one as­pect,” says Peter.

In­ter­nally, de­sign is also im­por­tant to make ef­fi­cient use of na­ture’s pro­vi­sions, he says. “Grey wa­ter can also be utilised for toi­let flush­ing in many lo­ca­tions while rain­wa­ter tanks can also be used for this pur­pose.”

On con­vert­ing ex­ist­ing sys­tems to re­duce wa­ter use, Peter says: “De­pend­ing on how easy it is to ac­cess ex­ist­ing fix­tures – say ground floor toi­lets and laun­dry taps serv­ing wash­ing ma­chines – some di­ver­sion plumb­ing will be re­quired from the wa­ter tank – usu­ally in­clud­ing a pump.

“It’s also im­por­tant that wa­ter-friendly de­vices are in­stalled by res­i­dents, in­clud­ing WELS rated taps (a rat­ings sys­tem set up by plumb­ing au­thor­i­ties for taps and all plumb­ing fix­tures, to in­di­cate wa­ter ef­fi­ciency) and wash­ing ma­chines and dish­wash­ers with high wa­ter ef­fi­ciency rat­ings to min­imise the im­pact on wa­ter use.”

Archi­cen­tre Aus­tralia has mem­ber ar­chi­tects and pro­vides de­sign ad­vice and assess­ment that puts live­abil­ity in­clud­ing sus­tain­abil­ity, at the fore­front of home de­sign. It also al­lows con­sumers to re­ceive in­de­pen­dent ad­vice – usu­ally at the front end of a process of in­ter­fac­ing with the build­ing and prop­erty in­dus­try. For more go­cen­treaus­

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