Barts sets benchmark for reducing water usage as reservoirs dry up

Amid UK water shortages, case study helps healthcare trusts to reduce water consumption

Water shortages across the UK mean NHS trusts will have to think carefully about ways to reduce consumption

As utility companies issue warnings over UK water shortages, a London NHS trust has set the benchmark after slashing water use by more than 100 million litres and saving in excess of £300,000 over the past three years.

Barts and the London Hospital spends around a fifth of its annual utility spend on water – £1m a year. But, over the past three years, the Barts Health NHS Trust has worked hard to slash its CO2 emissions across all services, achieving a 43% reduction.

And the impact this work has had on water use is being heralded as the way forward for all NHS organisations.

With many areas in drought, it is more important than ever for all organisations to reduce their water consumption

The reduction came about after the trust joined the AquaFund scheme in 2009. Under the initiative it received a grant from a £700m moneypot, together with expert advice, site audits and access to water-saving technologies, as well as help with tariff analysis and bill validation.

As a result the trust has reduced its water consumption by more than 30%, saving 100 million litres in three years. This is equivalent to every single Londoner reducing the time they spend in the shower by 10%. The trust has also saved £300,000 with some of this cash going to WaterAid, a charity that provides fresh water to the developing world.

Fiona Daly, environment lead at the hospital, said other trusts would now have to follow suit as water companies warn of shortages this summer and, in an effort to help, she has put together a case study, which can be accessed on the NHS Sustainable Development Unit’s website.

It states: “Reducing water consumption has helped the trust not only to reduce its carbon footprint, but also, importantly, it has saved money.

Barts is leading the way in London and has been really forward-thinking in its approach

“Since Barts joined AquaFund the cost of sewerage and water charges has risen significantly, but the trust’s water bill has stayed the same at £1m pounds a year. If the trust had not been making water savings, its latest water bill would have been around £1.3m, so the organisation is saving around £300,000 on water alone.”

Under the AquaFund scheme, experts carried out a full site survey, installing all necessary water-saving devices and providing maintenance advice and lifecyle information. In addition, the scheme was subject to an OJEC procurement by the NHS and ADSM, the managing company for AquaFund. This means NHS organisations can use the framework to procure services without the need for formal tender, easing the path for procurements over the current threshold of £100,000.

Commenting on the success at Barts, Patrick McCart, director of AquaFund, said: “With many areas in drought, it is more important than ever for all organisations to reduce their water consumption. Barts is leading the way in London and has been really forward-thinking in its approach.”

Daly added: “There have been water shortages in the South East region of England for a number of years, but in February it was officially declared a drought area. Households and organisations are now being asked to conserve water, something we have now been doing very successfully for several years.”

Click here to read the case study

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