Burwood’s Facilities Management team gets smart with a water meter to help reduce consumption
“It’s great when we can align and work with our retail partners on what we are working so hard to achieve.”
Aaron Brown, Facilities Manager, Westfield Burwood
With a mandate to continuously improve the performance and efficiency of each of our 42 Westfield Living Centres across Australia and New Zealand, our facilities management teams are focused on driving energy efficiency, improving waste diversion from landfill and reducing water use.
So, when taking on a new role in the facilities management team at Westfield Burwood, Facilities Manager Aaron Brown says it was critical for him to understand the performance of the centre in each of these three areas.
“Because I was new to the role and didn’t know the site very well, the first thing I did was to work closely with my colleagues to better understand where the key infrastructure was.”
It soon became clear that the main problem was a lack of visibility over water usage. “It was incredibly hard to get a sense of how much water we were using at any one time because there was a three-month delay between using the water and the bill coming through,” Aaron continues.
From a management perspective, this made it virtually impossible to react quickly to situations where excess water was being used, so Aaron decided to install a smart meter so he could get more accurate and timely usage data.
“I approached Sydney Water to get a better understanding of what types of smart meter solutions were out there, and they put me in touch with their own smart meter supplier called Water Group. They devised a really cost-effective solution, which we implemented in February 2019,” he says.
L-R Facilities Coordinator Arianne Villanueva, Assistant Facilities Manager Elias Nahlous and Facilities Manager, Aaron Brown at Westfield Burwood
The smart meter was installed at Westfield Burwood’s single water feed-in point and was incredibly cost effective but also incredibly impactful. “These days, I can see exactly how much water we are using on a cloud-based application,” Aaron says.
“By doing this we have reduced our information delay from three months to 15 minutes!”
By combining the smart meter data with a series of audits from major water users, including car washes, bathroom amenities and cooling towers, Aaron’s team was able to identify a series of problems that needed to be fixed.
“Getting access to our retail partner’s cooling towers was a major coup for us because in about four of them we noticed a float issue, which means that water is constantly running,” explains Aaron.
“Addressing this led to the biggest ‘wow’ moments - we were literally seeing major reductions in water consumption overnight.”
And the results speak for themselves. The team was able to save 20 million litres of water, or a 16% reduction in water consumption compared with last year. Not only is this the equivalent of saving eight Olympic-sized swimming pools, it also provided cost savings to the business.
In addition to excellent technical skills and knowledge, Aaron says an ability to educate, communicate and influence retail partners and other stakeholders was vital to the team’s success.
“It is so important for all of us to understand why water savings are important. Not just the financial impact, but the broader context of drought too,” he says.
“Our persistence really paid off and we ended up with a much better result than we had anticipated.”