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Water Sustainability at Monash University

Jul 25, 2021

Helping our customers achieve their sustainability goals is a challenge we love rising to. As our most valuable resource, the preservation of water is crucial to any successful sustainability plan. So, when almost three years ago, Monash University shared with Programmed their goal of increasing their water harvesting capacity by 50% by 2020, we jumped to help.

In 2018, our Grounds team at Monash worked collaboratively with the University’s Building and Environmental Planning team to begin incorporating new smart water technologies into the University’s established water infrastructure.

Almost three years later, we recently toured Monash University’s new Water Infrastructure System to see how far we’ve come and its significance in achieving the University’s water sustainability goals. The project’s key contributors, Carlo Lacson (Programmed’s Water Engineer) and Jun Li (Monash University’s Engineering Support Officer) demonstrated the impressive system at Monash University’s Clayton Campus.

The system comprises of a ring-main, filters and tanks, working together to collect stormwater via the University’s man-made lake and stormwater drains. Using these as a water source, the University can effectively reduce its reliance on potable (drinkable) water for irrigation and toilet flushing. This, coupled with the smart water meters, now installed at eighteen sites across the campus by Programmed, ensures the performance of the water system can be monitored every fifteen minutes.

The combination of the right equipment and a better understanding of plant-soil-water relationship now enables more effective and efficient use of water. It is an impressive feat, achieved by leveraging Programmed’s existing water asset data and a newly developed water portal, which allows the Programmed landscaping team to readily identify issues within the irrigation system (such as leaks or blockages) and quickly mark them for rectification.

Through the hard work of Carlo, Jun and the Programmed Grounds team there are now thirty-five water harvesting systems established and working across Monash University’s four campuses. The current system has a total capacity to hold – and ultimately save 20 million litres or more every year, depending on the irrigation requirement – with multiple points of recycled and collected water accessible for use across the campus.

Whilst designing efficient irrigation and storm-water systems is one of the most effective ways of reducing water use, many School and Universities find it the most daunting.

Like many modern Universities, Monash University has evolved rapidly in the past decade, with several major new buildings completed or underway. Whilst these developments create a vibrant campus experience for all students, staff and visitors, they add complexity to water sustainability plans needing to encompass the University in entirety.

Monash University initially reached out to Programmed as the ability to implement an effective whole-of-campus water sustainability system within an environment where out-dated infrastructure was embedded amongst newer infrastructure was proving to be complex and challenging.

Luckily, having tended Monash University’s campus grounds for over ten years, Programmed was able to assist the university with reliable information regarding water asset data and the current capacity of Monash University’s water system. Programmed’s familiarity with Monash’s sites, in-house water engineer and on-the-ground expertise means the University is well on its way to achieving its goal of increasing its water harvesting ability.

But the job won’t stop there. Key next steps will be ensuring systems across the whole university can be monitored via smart water meters, and inefficiencies can be identified faster. A simple user-friendly water usage dashboard, readily available to University stakeholders needing this data, is also currently in development.

Programmed has already been able to help Monash University leverage technology to understand its assets better via Konect, which Programmed currently uses to manage more than 60 assets. As a GPS locational system, Konect provides an accurate picture of the asset and the condition of the asset through real-time data. Programmed is looking to leverage Konect to complement the water portal for the routine and cyclic maintenance of water assets.

For more information on how we Konect at Monash University see our blog here.

If your School or University is looking to embrace new technologies to support your sustainability goals, get in touch by emailing us today at maintenance.enquiry@programmed.com.au

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