Water Plus helps university make savings through water efficiency and consolidated billing

A large university has cut their water use and identified more than £50,000 of savings in less than three months, thanks to partnering with business water retailer Water Plus.

Queen Mary University of London’s (QMUL) Energy & Sustainability Team wanted to streamline their energy and utilities services - reducing their administration time and costs for water services and improving water efficiency, meter reading and billing accuracy.

They also wanted an improved understanding of consumption trends to significantly increase water efficiency across their sites. With QMUL setting ambitious targets for reducing their water consumption, they were keen to look beyond short-term unit rate savings and encourage long-term efficiency.  They wanted an experienced customer service, billing and water management partner.

Water Plus won the mini tender for QMUL through the LASER water buying framework, after it secured a place as a water, wastewater and ancillary services supplier to public sector organisations across the UK.

Once taking over the water and wastewater services contract, Water Plus ensured all the sites were switched to them, the water meters were read and the consolidated e-bill was provided to the University. This gave greater visibility of consumption, and that it was higher for some sites than expected which needed further investigation into the cause.

Over thirty-five Automatic Meter Reader (AMR) data loggers have been installed at the University since moving to Water Plus to help give them more information on water use across buildings and sites. More data loggers are in the process of being installed so that their estate is fully covered. Data monitoring from the loggers has enabled a 1,750 litre per hour leak to be identified and fixed.

Mark Taylor, Advanced Services Operations Manager at Water Plus, has been working with the University on the AMR installation programme and how they can identify further savings.

Mark said: “It’s early days on this project, and we’ve already identified more than £50,000 of water that was being lost.  Having the visibility of the data first hand has allowed for the early identification of a severe issue. This along with the swift action of the University, has allowed for a considerable saving to be made. 
Graph above: Data logger water use data

“Water plays a critical role in many public services, across healthcare, leisure and schools. At a time where water supplies are under strain, and leaks can add unnecessary costs to bills, it is our role to improve efficiencies through leak repairs or the implementation of simple saving measures.

“With the focus on value for money in public sector organisations, spending time, with expert help, to look at how they use water across their sites, and identifying waste or inefficiencies will lead to tangible benefits.

“We manage the water and wastewater services for many public sector organisations, including some of the largest and most diverse in the UK, so we truly understand their needs and the financial challenges they face - and we’ve seen the difference water efficiency programmes can make.”

With around 25,000 students and an estimated annual water consumption of around 570,000m3, QMUL are one of the biggest University of London colleges.

Glyn Lee, Energy Surveyor at Queen Mary University of London, said: “We should exceed our three-year water savings target in the first six months of the water contract and have the data to look in-depth for more potential savings. Water AMRs have also revealed two supplies where we have operational concerns due to low water turnover in water tanks. It is unlikely we would have known about, or identified these issues, without water AMR and are delighted we included it in the water supply contract.”

“The tender and contract requirements issued by QMUL, through the LASER procurement framework, included many innovative, far-reaching and challenging requirements beyond usual for suppliers to achieve. Water Plus were successful gaining the contract largely due to their ability to meet and exceed those requirements,” Glyn added.

The University also received help and information from Water Plus to run a water efficiency competition with their students.

Water Plus is also partnering with Waterwise, the independent campaigning organisation, to boost awareness of water efficiency and savings further, as well as encouraging water efficiency through innovation across the UK.

Mark added: “It may be low down on most organisations’ agenda but using water more efficiently is an area where big savings can be made, which would also lower running costs. Some efficiency changes may mean an initial investment for your organisation but the savings from using less water and from lower bills, pays you back.”

Matt Hull, Water Services Manager at LASER, which is a specialist in utilities procurement for public sector bodies, said: “It’s great to see the work Water Plus is doing with Queen Mary University of London, helping a large organisation with multiple sites find savings and increasing water efficiency. It’s also good to see partnerships like this that are helping reduce impact on the environment and lower water bills too.

“The university has told us that the strong supplier engagement throughout the transfer process led to a seamless switch of their water services to Water Plus and working closely with the meter reader ensured that all meters were read.”
Further information about LASER

LASER is a wholly owned part of Kent County Council, under KCC’s Commercial Services umbrella. It was formed in 1989 and is now one of the largest energy and water Public Buying Organisations (PBOs) in the UK.

LASER’s frameworks are created to simplify procurement and save money for public bodies throughout the UK.

LASER’s water framework contains multiple suppliers who were successful in meeting the requirements of a tender. Public sector customers may select a supplier from the framework through a mini tender process.

In order to access the framework, please contact LASER at waterprocurement@laserenergy.org.uk or call 01622 23 6613. Alternatively, you can visit LASER’s website for more information.

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