The University is working to reduce total water consumption and its associated demand on this scarce resource.
Reducing water consumption
Starting from a 2017-18 benchmark of 420,000 cubic metres, the University is challenging itself to reduce water consumption despite an expected increase in residences over this time. The University has set itself a 15% absolute water reduction target against the 17-18 benchmark. It aims to achieve this by 2021.
This will be achieved through four streams of work:
- Detecting leaks: this is done through a combination of the installation of strategic meters, pattern analysis, increasing reporting and a range of other methods including the use of heat-vision cameras.
- Reducing consumption: through changes in equipment, behaviour and usage in both residences and academic buildings.
- Independent supply: our Stag Hill campus will be supplied from an onsite borehole, reducing costs and the energy required in transportation.
- Preventing waste: by installing intelligent controls and reducing flush and flow rates across campus, we are looking to reduce the amount of water that might be potentially wasted.
Our progress on reducing water use is reported quarterly to the Executive Sustainability Steering Group, Infrastructure Management Board and annually to the Executive Board. These groups contain representation from across the University’s senior management and include student representation from the Students' Union and societies.
A number of successes have been identified so far:
- Existing systems are being monitored while we prepare the installation of additional meters over the coming months.
- Current behavioural patterns and consumption are being studied to establish the most effective areas to tackle first.
- The on-site borehole is in place and has been signed off by the Environment Agency, and installation is planned for January/February 2020.
Stage one of preventing waste has already been completed with the instillation of passive infra-red systems across 26 bathrooms and more than 120 urinals. This has resulted in a saving of £40,000 a year and a staggering 27,000,000 litres of water a year, the equivalent to 11 Olympic-sized swimming pools worth of water.
The University estate and landscaping is maintained by a dedicated team of in-house staff. They employ a range of methods to conserve water:
- Adopting a water probe irrigation system to assess soil moisture, promoting targeted rather than widespread watering.
- Compost and mulch are used to retain moisture around trees and reduce the amount of watering required.
- The University has removed water fountain systems and replaced them with planted beds with drought resistant species.
Water usage and environmental care
The University treats wastewater from its Veterinary School and dilutes this before it enters the public sewers. Our Surrey Sports Park facilities have abatement systems to limit the flow rate of water into the public sewers and reduce pressure on infrastructure.
At our Stag Hill campus we maintain two lakes which enhance the biodiversity of the site but also act as abatement systems, collecting surface run off (through fuel interceptors) and slowing its entry into water courses, reducing the risk of flooding. These interceptors also serve as a method of preventing any spillages from entering the lakes.
The Control of Hazardous Substances Policy (PDF) aims to reduce environmental impact created by the use or disposal of hazardous substances.
Water refill points
We recognise the impact that plastic has on our ecosystems, so we’re committed to reducing the use of single-use plastic bottles. The University offers a series of refill points around campus for staff, students and visitors to refill their bottles. We are planning to install more of these points in 2020 and will be producing a map of these locations to make finding them easier.