Our water saving story

In 2019, the University used just under 437,000 cubic metres of water, which is equivalent to 0.69 cubic metres of water per square metre of gross floor area, or 13 cubic metres per full-time equivalent student. 

The University has been monitoring, measuring and working to reduce water use for 40 years. We save water by including water-efficient operating plant, fittings and equipment in our buildings, and by encouraging staff and students to save water in kitchens, toilets and bathrooms, and labs. Water used for heating and cooling our buildings is re-recirculated. As a result of these initiatives, we still used slightly less water in total in 2019 than our peak in the early 1980’s, despite tripling our student numbers and increasing our gross floor area by 2.5. Our buildings also use 64% less water per square metre of gross floor area than they did in 1981.

In 2016, the University won an Environment and Sustainability award for initiatives on our Newmarket Campus, that included sustainable water use. The award was conferred by New Zealand’s Institute for Professional Engineers in recognition of the use of natural springs and bore water for heat exchange in process cooling water systems, cooling tower make-up and irrigation, instead of potable mains water supplies. The initiatives included re-injection of water back into the aquifer system from which it came to protect the natural resource for sustainable use.

The University’s Business School has a system for collecting water from its roof and using it for flushing toilets. This saves on average 1,250m3/year of fresh water.

The University’s Student Well-being and Sustainability teams have identified access to free water on the University’s campuses as an essential component of student well-being. They have conducted an audit of water fountains on campus and are working with Property Services to address the gaps and minimise the need for bottled water on campus. It is anticipated that the availability and accessibility of free drinking water on campus will become part of the design standards to ensure consistency across the University.