There is scarcely a resource more precious and crucial to life than water. Yet as we all know, water is a non-renewable resource and its conservation is especially important in drought-prone Australia.

While there are many things we as individuals can do to save water, our modern lifestyle and the appliances we use can make this difficult. But this is where architecture and design comes in.

By designing structures and specifying products with sustainable water management at the forefront, saving water becomes an effortless part of everyday life. And not only is this essential for the environment, but it can also generate significant cost savings as well.


One of the most obvious sources of water use in any build is bathroom and kitchen taps. These fixtures are an important part of daily life, facilitating activities such as cleaning, cooking and drinking. Therefore, it makes sense that fitting builds with smart, water-conserving taps can make a huge difference in the sustainability of the build.

One such example is Waterlogic’s Billi water systems, which provide under bench instant boiling, chilled, sparkling and still filtered water. Other features include water-cooled technology, space-saving underbench footprints, specialty dispensers and models that do not require cupboard ventilation cut outs or grilles. According to Waterlogic, this makes the units easy to install, energy-efficient and suitable for use in small and medium commercial businesses as well as residential applications.

Key benefits include patented Firewall UVC technology that is proven to be 99.99 percent effective against COVID-19; BioCote antimicrobial protection that restricts the growth of bacteria and mould around the dispensing area; and high-performance filters that remove contaminants that can cause unpleasant tastes and smells.

Use of these products can be seen in Ramsay Health Care’s Hollywood Private Hospital, with a total of 81 fit for purpose water dispensers used in the build. The dispensers were a key part of Ramsay Health Care’s newly implemented sustainability strategy, which focuses heavily on the reduction of single-use plastics such as water bottles. Indeed, in the first two months of the new strategy Ramsay was able to eliminate the use of 5.5 million plastic items which would have ended up in landfill.

Speaking of sustainable tapware, the Autoflo Pillar standard is another good option if you are looking for a hygienic sensor tap solution. Activated when a user places their hands in front of the sensor, the Pillar Standard has a number of other smart features, including a 72-hour automatic flush after last use (removing the possibility of stagnant water), economical power consumption and constant self-monitoring of power when operating on battery mode.

According to the company, sensor taps can reduce water usage by up to 60 percent. This is because sensor taps prevent users from leaving water running when soaping their hands or washing their face, or spending time setting the water temperature to a particular level.

This will soon be seen in practice at JCU’s new student accommodation project in Townsville. Designed by Nettleton Tribe, the build (which is expected to open in 2022) includes around 76 Pillar Standard taps in the public bathroom areas.

The taps were chosen due to their numerous sustainable features, including a WELS 6 star rating that will help contribute to the project’s targeted LEED Gold Sustainability Rating.

Another interesting tapware option is Geberit’s HyTronic Sensor Tap, an electronic touchless tap that operates with self-sustaining power. The taps use a small generator, making them independent from mains power or battery power.

Essentially, whenever the tap is in use, the flowing water charges the accumulator through a hydroelectric turbine which produces electricity to ensure the tap is operational at all times.

According to Geberit, the ecological impact of these taps is 50 percent less than battery-operated taps and 80 percent less than taps with an electrical connection. They are also easy to install in a standard bathroom as no power point is required, with the added benefit of reducing costs, saving power and eliminating the need to change flat batteries.

It is also worth noting that the HyTronic Sensor Taps were used in the King Abdullah Financial District in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The 1.6 million square metre district will be home to 34 high-rise complexes, and is the largest mixed-use financial district in the world to achieve LEED Platinum certification. The sensor taps (along with the rest of Geberit’s bathroom products) contributed 10 points towards the LEED certification for this project, according to the company.

Finally, if you are looking for sustainable tapware with a particular focus on water purity, Galvin Engineering has a range of smart products designed to ensure no or very little (less than 0.25 percent) lead is leaching into the water supply. The range also includes battery-operated smart control options, which allow for retrofit application into remote installations without the need for power supply.

Some of Galvin’s water solutions can be seen in use at the Cox Architecture-designed Optus Stadium in Perth. For example, to meet the project’s challenging water usage limit, Galvin developed and installed a sequential urinal flushing system with hygienic hands-free activation.

Addressing health concerns around lead content in water, Galvin’s R&D team also produced electronic lead-safe drinking bubblers that meet the venue’s water conservation goals while ensuring the delivery of safe drinking water.

Drainage grates

When it comes to water management in a build, the products you specify for the outside are just as important as the products inside. Drainage grates, for example, can play a very important role in managing waste and stormwater.

One good solution is the NeXTGeneration 26 Midnight Grate from Lauxes Grates. Designed for indoor and outdoor applications, this 26mm deep grate is made from durable corrosion free and rust-proof aluminium, and is available in a UV stabilised matte midnight black.

The grate effectively contains and controls wastewater, while enabling safe and efficient water usage. One key benefit is that it requires only a one-directional slope on the floor, which means it can run the entire length of a shower, driveway, pool or other water exposed area. Lightweight and malleable, the product also offers on-site customisation and quick in-ground installation, making it a convenient choice for a wide range of projects.

For a solution more geared towards urban spaces, Weldlok’s civil grating is a suitable option. According to the company, the drainage grates are designed for compatibility with precast structures and to ensure safe access and serviceability for teams in the field.

“The newly developed proprietary removable hinged design of the Weldlok Pit Grate range allows access for service and can be bolted down for security. Grating patterns are interchangeable with this design, so should needs change over the project development, tops can be easily replaced, eliminating the costly impact of replacing the entire system,” says Brent Frampton, Civil Specialist at Nepean Building and Infrastructure.

Weldlok also has a range of access covers and grates certified to AS3996-2019 by SAI Global, as well as appraisal by the Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) for its Ductile products.

“Many LGAs have already approved the Weldlok Ductile range for use, easing the burden of planning,” adds Frampton.

More ways to save water

Just as much as taps are a key part of everyday life, so are our appliances. Choosing smart, sustainable appliances can be an effortless way to help occupants save energy, water and in turn, money. Washing machines, for example, are an appliance that has the potential to be water and energy-intensive if the product itself is inefficient or used on the wrong settings.

To avoid this, one good option is Electrolux’s 10kg front load washer, AutoDose system, which is Wi-Fi enabled with a 5 star energy and 45 star WELS rating. Designed to clean clothes at 30 degrees in less than an hour, this product uses UltraMix technology to ensure that washing clothes at 30 degrees is as effective as washing them at 40 degrees. This helps to preserve colours longer while using energy more efficiently. The washer also uses VapourRefresh technology to quickly refresh and iron out clothes. According to the company, this saves on water consumption, extends the life of the clothes and reduces overall environmental impact.

Outside of the build, if you are working on a project where water tanks are involved, one thing you may also want to consider is a smart tank monitoring solution. One suitable example is Kingspan’s Smart Tank Sensor, which uses smart technology paired with the Telstra 4G network to manage and monitor water tanks remotely from anywhere, at any time.

Essentially, the product is able to provide an estimate of how many days of water usage is left in the tank based on average water usage. This data is tracked over one month, three months and a year, with all data available for remote access 24/7 on the Smart Tank app. And perhaps one of the best features of this product is its compatibility with all water tanks – not just Kingspan tanks.

According to Kingspan, this solution is ideal for councils who need to manage water levels in their LGA. Specifically, councils are able to determine how much water comes in and goes out, the amount of water the tank saves during a rainfall event and how much stormwater is prevented from entering the drainage system within their LGA. In general, this solution makes it easy for councils to understand the data and access reporting to help meet their smart cities sustainability goals.

Finally, it is worth mentioning a solution geared towards more challenging builds. An interesting example is the use of Saniflo’s Sanicom2 commercial grey water lifting station in a timber commercial building. In this case, the objective was to provide plumbing for coffee bars and kitchenettes on each level of the multi-storey building. The problem however, was that core drilling could compromise or degrade the integrity of the timber structure.

The brief stated that each floor was to be designed to accommodate the individual client’s preferred kitchen location. As these were leased spaces, the various businesses operating in these spaces all had different amenity requirements. Therefore, it was not possible to use traditional plumbing to achieve each of the desired wet areas due to the building’s limited core drilling capacity.

According to Saniflo, Sanicom2 was able to achieve the desired wet areas, with the added benefit of design flexibility and cost savings for the client. The result is an architecturally impressive and functional multi-storey timber building complete with all the desired amenities.

Image:  Autoflo Pillar / Supplied


Billi Australia


Galvin Engineering


Kingspan Water and Energy

Lauxes Grates

Nepean Building and Infrastructure (Weldlok)