ARCHICENTRE Australia is urging home builders and homeowners to consider water conservation measures when building or renovating.
Director Peter Georgiev said conserving water should be a proactive decision and utilising the professional design expertise of architects could help home builders and renovators reduce water use.
“Architects are best placed to incorporate water conservation measures in the design phase of new homes or apartments as well as in additions to existing residences,” he said.
“They take into account a site’s natural attributes, including site slope, soil type, climate and its compatibility with a proposed or existing dwelling in coming up with water-friendly designs.
“Where appropriate, design can incorporate grey water systems, rainwater tanks, suitable guttering and downpipes and water-efficient gardens, possibly even feature ponds.
“A pond can include reed beds, which act as a completely natural grey water recycling system by using a plant’s roots in a bed of gravel to aerate water and break down bacteria.”
In the garden, mulch should be used to help retain moisture, plants should be low maintenance and less thirsty and paving or decks should be considered as an alternative to large lawns which require plenty of water.
Mr Georgiev said it was a good idea to seek the advice of landscape architects regarding effective, sustainable and complementary strategies for external design.
“They have particular knowledge regarding appropriate plant species, paving materials, heights of paving relative to internal floor levels, decking, entertaining areas and other outdoor effects,” he said.
Internally, design was also important to make efficient use of water.
“Grey water or rainwater tanks can be utilised for toilet flushing in many locations,” Mr Georgiev said.
“Even in existing residences it may be possible to access fixtures such as ground floor toilets and laundry taps serving washing machines by using diversion plumbing and pumps from the water tank.
“Relevant local plumbing regulations will guide how an appropriate and safe secondary water system can be installed.
Mr Georgiev said residents could also install water-friendly devices, rated by the water efficiency labelling scheme (WELS) in order to minimise water use.
This can include taps, toilets, washing machines, dishwashers and showerheads.