Articles & Case Studies

Rainwater put to good use at University of Huddersfield

Posted: Monday 7th April 2008

Perfect timing for Rainwater Harvesting at the University.

Amidst torrential rainstorms in Huddersfield this week, the University of Huddersfield are installing a rainwater harvesting system into their newest building on Queensgate campus, the new cutting-edge design £14m Creative Arts Building.

Today will see a huge 45,000 litre capacity water storage tank installed into an underground pit next to the new building. This will form part of a standard ‘greywater harvesting’ system which will allow the University to collect rainwater from the building’s roof to be filtered and stored in the underground tank for purposes like flushing toilets - significantly reducing the environmental impact of the new building.

Now nearing completion, the Creative Arts Building is set to become the most environmentally friendly building on campus upon completion of construction in April. The state-of-the-art structure, which will be home to students studying music and music technology, fashion, creative imaging, multimedia and business design awareness incorporates a range of eco-friendly features like solar panels and wind turbines, and is made of construction materials that will be fully recyclable at the end of its life. It is on target to achieve a ‘Very Good’ BREEAM rating, one of the higher marks awarded to sustainable buildings.

Alan Johnson, Deputy Director of the University’s Estates department states, “We are proud to be one of the first organisations in Huddersfield to be investing in sustainable options like rainwater recycling and renewable energy for our buildings. Not only is the Creative Arts Building stunning and contemporary in looks, it is environmentally sound as well.

It is the first time the University has ventured specifically into ‘rainwater recycling’, but in fact it has a long history of putting water to good use. The construction of the Central Services Building in 1974 saw then state-of-the-art building cooling systems installed using canal water as a cooling medium. Today around 25% of campus buildings are still cooled using canal water.

There are also special surface water discharge systems in place, which mean that certain areas of campus return surface water into the canal rather than into the public sewer.

The rainwater recycling system is the next step in increasing water conservation measures at the University. As Adrian Lee, the University’s Energy and Water Manager, explains: “Consumption of water has been reduced year on year against a trend of increases in the HE sector. All but one of our buildings achieves a better grading than the Watermark figure for best practice in the sector. We have worked closely with British Waterways, Yorkshire Water, and our staff and students to achieve these figures. The new rainwater recycling initiative will help even further – it will help offset the impact of increased water demands from having an additional building on campus, one that is larger than the previous Great Hall Building it replaced.”

And the future of the University buildings is looking ever-brighter, as Alan Johnson says: “This is just the start of sustainable projects for us – and not just new buildings but also in refurbishment of our buildings. In future projects sustainable factors will be integrated into design. We are working towards even higher standards for the new Business School, scheduled for completion in 2010”.


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