Sensor technology aids sustainable water in public housing
Spotless’ innovative water saving program, trialled within their Western Australian public housing contract, has demonstrated the potential savings of millions of litres of water (and dollars) each year for The Housing Authority (THA) of Western Australia.
As facility manager, Spotless provides maintenance works and services to approximately 22,000 social housing properties owned or managed by THA. High water demands combined with hot dry Perth summers regularly strain the city’s water resources. Spotless recognised this was an area they could potentially make a difference – providing long-term sustainability and environmental improvements as well as financial benefits for THA.
“We wanted to do something to create real value in the way we were delivering our services to THA,” said Lucy Cordone, Spotless Contract Manager for Government – Housing WA. “In initial conversations, we understood that water consumption was a challenge for them and we wanted to help them.”
“First we needed to really understand what the problem was, and the specific contributing factors in order to come up with a robust, flexible solution,” continued Lucy.
In late 2016 and early 2017, Spotless implemented their innovative IoT sensor solution – small mobile sensors that capture water consumption data remotely – in a sample of housing residencies to understand the water usage trends.
The baseline water consumption in the sample residencies highlighted a general trend of water use three times higher than the industry and State daily benchmark.
“The real-time data provided us with detailed insights into accurate water use — including over-use,” said Lucy.
“We were able to pinpoint residencies with high water-usage, and look at when spikes were occurring and what was causing them.”
The accurate reporting facilitated a strategic preventative maintenance program for Spotless. “We developed our maintenance program around the data, to be more effective; using the data to prioritise maintenance and servicing jobs, and also inform future maintenance schedules,” said Lucy. “The data helped us to schedule in preventative maintenance jobs so that we were fixing things before they broke.”
While some of the high water-use pointed to faulty or worn out mechanical issues, the data also highlighted water-use behaviours that were contributing to excess water-use.
“Some of the high water-use trends were due to mechanical issues like leaks, but we found in some cases it was due to taps not being turned off properly or over-use due to things like residents filling up inflatable pools.”