Rainwater Harvesting

Polypipe Terrain’s Rainwater Harvesting national sales manager Darren Crane looks at how new innovations in rainwater capture and re-use are helping architects, contractors and developers to boost their environmental credentials and significantly reduce a building’s water usage

Unpredictable weather patterns coupled with Government standards have placed an unprecedented focus on the need to maximise rainwater re-use with new and innovative water saving systems.

It has often been said that water is a scarce resource and this was certainly highlighted when the Environment Agency declared much of the UK officially in drought earlier in the year.

The Government’s 2011 white paper, Water for Life, advised that we could see up to ten times more droughts affecting the UK by 2100 and although this date is some time away, initial preparations for a dramatic change in climate are already underway via environmental and legislative standards.

Standards such as the Code for Sustainable Homes (CfSH) and the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) already require a reduction in mains water consumption in conjunction with other “green” technologies.

Increasingly, architects, main contractors and developers are conforming to these standards through rainwater harvesting.

As well as receiving environmental credentials for new buildings, in some locations where there are issues with flooding and drought, they could potentially see a more sympathetic handling of planning applications which incorporate rainwater re-use as we see a growing focus placed on future proofing buildings.

Sales of rainwater harvesting systems are reported to have grown by over 850 per cent within the last five years. However, it’s not just environmental targets and unpredictable weather patterns that have spurred on such a boost in popularity.

The many applications for rainwater re-use means that considerable savings in water bills and usage can be made across residential, commercial and public sector buildings.

Rainwater, for example, is ideal for toilet and urinal flushing, which is often the highest consumer of water in commercial and public sector buildings. Through utilising rainwater for this purpose, water consumption can be cut by up to 80 per cent.

While for domestic users the re-use of rainwater can save them up to 50 per cent of their annual potable water usage.

This, coupled with the fact that rainwater systems can also be used for laundry washing, vehicle washing, commercial wash down and many agricultural and horticultural applications, means the savings can be considerable.

The payback period can be as quick as three years on buildings with large roofs and a high nonpotable water demand.

Horticulture is one such area where we see a potential uptake of rainwater re-use systems as an effective means of supplying internal watering systems to crops within glass houses, reducing demands on mains water and hence, water bills.

Continuous product development and new innovations in technology from leading manufacturers means that rainwater harvesting systems are now much more in line with modern methods of construction.

One of the latest developments in rainwater re-use technology, Rainstream RXL, is an advanced rainwater harvesting system with optional built-in microbial technology.

This high volume water storage solution from Polypipe Terrain offers all of the advantages of traditional GRP sub-surface systems while minimising the cost and complications associated with conventional GRP product ranges.

Its bespoke, modular design and manufacture allows for any storage capacity and burial depth, whether below the water table or in heavily trafficked areas, without costly over-engineering. In many cases Rainstream RXL tanks can be installed, dependent on ground conditions, without a concrete back fill and additionally do not require filling with water during the installation process.

Rainstream RXL Tanks are available with Biomaster antimicrobial lining, a proven effective means of reducing the growth of bacteria on the internal surface of the tank which enables specifiers, contractors and engineers to offer customers an extra level of protection if required.

The feast and famine of rainwater conditions the UK is currently experiencing only goes to highlight the importance of addressing water usage.

A growing number of construction industry professionals are recognising the benefits and necessity of rainwater re-use systems and also the role manufacturers can play if involved at the early design stage to value engineer the most effective solution for their individual projects.

After all, seeking manufacturer advice is free so it makes perfect sense to utilise their product knowledge and experience of similar projects.

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