Design for water conservation

    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 go to:www.archicentreaustralia.com.au

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