Water is a precious and limited resource and the University is committed to managing its water use effectively. In our Environmental and Energy policy (section 3) we commit to:
- Continually improve energy and water efficiency, using absolute and relative metrics to assess performance.
- Invest in new energy and water efficient and re-use technologies, and support relevant design activities, where these cost-effectively improve performance.
This is implemented through our Environmental and Energy Management System (EEMS), with reducing water committed to as a key objective within our 2022-23 Environmental Objectives (see item 2) set as part of our EEMS.
Since 2011/12, the University has made significant reductions in its non-residential water consumption; achieving a 26% cut, saving 288,810 m3 and £489,385 on a cumulative basis. In 2017, it committed to extending this to between 30% and 35% on an absolute basis by 2021, which at a time of growth for the University are ambitious.
Residential (halls) water consumption has grown significantly over this period, which is to be expected with over 1,500 additional bedroom spaces in the onsite halls of residence. In overall terms, this has meant there has been a net increase in water consumption since 2011/12. UPP, the halls provider at the University, has committed to a 5% per capita reduction by 2021. Delivering this, together with a 35% absolute reduction in the non-residential estate, will see overall consumption drop back to 2011/12 levels.
You can read more about the latest targets in our Water Management Plan 2022-2026.
We re-use water in a number of buildings through the use of greywater / rainwater harvesting systems. There are a number of boreholes at our farms from which water is extracted sustainably every year. We currently have 5 abstraction licences, only one of which is having any water abstracted at the current time. The annual total of water abstracted for Apr’22 to Mar’23 was 21,633 m3.
The University recognises the importance of engaging with our community on the efficient use of water, and how steps can be taken to reduce consumption. As such:
- Water is identified as a key environmental workstream from promotion within the University as part of Sustainability Communications Plan.
- Our activities for this year include University support for World Water day through an activity/event as well as using our website, social media and Sustainability Matters newsletters to highlight the importance of conserving water, and advising staff and students on steps they can take to help reduce consumption.
- Our Doing UoR Bit engagement platform/app is open to all staff and students and provides suggested activities to engage in to be more sustainable, with the opportunity to earn points for activities completed. This includes water saving ideas such as limiting showers to 4 minutes, only boiling the kettle for one cup of water when make a single hot drink and reporting water leaks/issues identified around campus to Sustainability and/or Estates.
- We also promote sustainable water use and share updates on our progress against our water targets within our annual sustainability report, which is publicly available.