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Water-saving initiatives will be factored into the budget of every new building to be constructed at Nelson Mandela University – to ensure all new buildings are water-wise.

The University has core values that reflect on both sustainability and respect for the natural environment and has, over the past few years, increasingly moved towards a more environmentally sustainable way of carrying out its operations.

The water-saving initiatives will include the installation of water monitoring systems such as electronic water reading meters – to provide accurate real-time information about the amount of water going into a building, and how it is being used in that building.

“This will help us to detect leaks and identify any usage abuse,” said Nelson Mandela University’s sustainability engineer Andre Hefer.

“Every new building will also need to create awareness about water-wise behaviour by the building’s users and visitors, through the use of relevant signage, for example.

“There could also be some other ways of visually showing each building’s make-up and water usage patterns – this would literally give users a clear idea of which elements in the building assist with which aspect of environmental control. For example, we could make part of the rainwater storage and distribution system visible in the reception area, with information about how it works and how much water we are saving by using it.”

Simulation and modelling of water supplied from all sources

The use of rainwater, grey water, boreholes and other sources to supplement municipal water supplies, will need to be explored in the planning stages of all new buildings at Nelson Mandela University.

“This will give the university the ability to compare and implement the most feasible and sustainable water options in all new buildings,” said the university’s sustainability engineer Andre Hefer.

Hefer said the planning of new buildings would need to accommodate “simulation, modelling and analysis” exercises relating to non-municipal water sources. These will include assessing the potential for:

  • Rainwater harvesting, distribution and storage systems and usage
  • Grey water storage and usage
  • Storm-water retention
  • Site-specific borehole water usage
  • Return Effluent (RE) water for applicable usage, e.g. flushing of toilets and urinals

“It will be a case of: If we implement this, what will the outcomes be? For instance, will we have enough rainwater each month to flush toilets?

“The exercises carried out, and the discussions that follow, will impact the design of each building.”

Contact information
Dr Andre Hefer
Sustainability Engineer
Tel: 041 504 1456