With level 5 water restrictions in place in the Western Cape, pressure is building for commercial property owners to reduce their water consumption. It was recently announced that commercial buildings should reduce water use by 20% when compared to usage a year ago. No small feat, many businesses are struggling to make the necessary changes.
Expensive solutions are easy to come by: from water tanks to water recycling systems. While these are viable options for large companies, entrepreneurs and small organisations oftentimes won’t have the necessary funding to implement it. So what does one do? As a commercial property owner, there are several low-cost and nearly no-effort steps you can take. We spoke to Sean Paul, Executive Director of Spire Property Management, gathering the following points:
Switch off or limit irrigation of gardens. Where possible, replace current landscaping with more water-wise and resilient plants (think succulents and indigenous plants).
Adjust the flush valves to reduce flow in toilets. The same counts for water pressure at taps. If possible, look into automated taps for the bathroom taps, further reducing wastage. A less costly option would be to install aerators on the taps.
Waterless hand sanitiser can be provided at strategic places, further reducing the need for water.
Turn off water features and fountains.
Place locks on all external taps, thus avoiding abuse and theft.
Support water-wise companies – when looking for a builder or cleaning company, make an effort to make use of one that uses harvested rain water.
Communicate with your tenants regarding water-saving measures and efforts to reduce usage.
Install prepaid meters for tenants with a history of high water use. This is especially relevant in water-intensive industries such as restaurants, car washes, and hair salons.
Once the above points have been implemented in your properties, it might be worthwhile looking into further improvements and installations. While the initial price tag may be hefty, it will ensure your property is future-proof. As Paul explains, “The drought will come to an end, however the benefits of employing the above water saving measures will have a far reaching beneficial effect for years to come.”
Green features in buildings are also becoming a drawcard for potential tenants, which means you’ll have less trouble filling your commercial building. Many residential properties are already implementing the below methods, with several large corporations having put them in place years ago.
Examples include harvesting rainwater; installing grey water solutions that allow the re-use of water; installing boreholes; and amending air conditioning and HVAC systems in order to harvest the water generated by these technologies.
Making the office productive again
The GBCSA recently hosted their 2017 convention in Cape Town, with one discussion centred around improving productivity through green building methods. Aspects such as air quality, noise, and temperature all have a proven effect on how happy and efficient workers are. If you’re planning on getting into the commercial property business, you’d be doing yourself (and future tenants) a favour by implementing some of the following in the planning of your building:
Natural light: in a perfect world, we shouldn’t have to switch on the lights during the day. Natural light stimulates the brain and leads to better performance.
Air flow: sure, that air conditioning unit is great on a hot summer’s day. But few things beat natural air flow. Not only that, but you’re also saving on electrify and costs.
View: few things are less stimulating than staring at a wall (or cubicle) all day. Planning the layout of an office in such a way as to allow for desks with a view, your tenants are sure to be happy.