There’s something deeply iconic about the galvanised water tank in Australian architecture. It’s a practical response to the need to save water, and at the same time a symbol of a growing sensitivity to the need for a more sustainable way of life.
Today that powerful imagery is has become a favoured part of the modern urban vernacular, and the galvanised water tank is as much at home in the inner city as the suburbs. Australian architects are now also incorporating galvanised tanks into commercial and community buildings.
For Kingspan Water & Energy, this shift in consumer and design preferences is in perfect alignment with its key mandate to improve the environment.
The company designs, manufactures and installs water harvesting systems and it also offers planning advice and works with individual property owners, councils and businesses to understand their needs and objectives to devise an integrated solution.
Kingspan’s involvement with the highly regarded Marrickville Library and Pavilion in Sydney’s inner west is a perfect example of how this can work.
The former hospital site was subject to a long and thoughtful process, driven by the Inner West Council, to combine new and re-used historic buildings with “a big nod to the contribution the hospital made to the community between 1897 to 1991”, as The Fifth Estate reported in a recent article.
Top of mind was the need for the project to be highly sustainable.
The designers chose an Australian garden theme for the site, perfect for an integrated water solution that included Kingspan’s iconic water tank.
Kingspan used six corrugated tanks, meeting the need for water savings, architectural appeal and environmental credentials.
How does the system work?
Rainwater from the roof is collected in one tank and overflows into the other five tanks.
When all six tanks reach capacity, overflow water is directed to a tank installed below ground, where it is retained for purposes such as fire protection.
If this underground tank reaches capacity, the overflow is first filtered before being discharged into the municipal sewer system.
This feature ensures the library’s excess rainwater does not add to the level of impurities or other burdens entering the system that places a burden on end-of-pipe water treatment facilities.
The harvested rainwater in the above-ground tanks is reticulated through the building for amenity flushing and also used for landscape irrigation. An automatic switching system in the building, which communicates with water level monitoring, switches the amenities flushing and irrigation to potable mains water only if the tanks run dry.
The six tanks provide the library with more than 90,000 litres of water storage – the equivalent of the combined daily water use of about 450 Sydney households.
Designed to withstand Australia’s harsh environment, the tanks are constructed of Galvanised Bluescope AQUAPLATE steel and fabricated in Kingspan’s Australian manufacturing centres.
A food-grade polymer coating inside the tanks ensures water quality, and all tanks carry WaterMark certification and are certified to meet Australian Standard AS4020 for the storage of drinking water.
They have a 10-year construction warranty and 20-year warranty against corrosion.
Like many projects Kingspan has worked on, the Marrickville Library was able to obtain credits from an environmental rating system for the tank installation.
One of the factors driving greater recognition of the value of rainwater harvesting is a wider awareness of the environmental and financial costs of ensuring adequate water supplies at a time when populations are growing,, housing and other building construction are on the increase and at a time when our climate is getting hotter and drier.
Some people argue for more hard infrastructure investments, such as a second Sydney or Melbourne desalination plant. But Kingspan’s modelling and analysis for its alternative water plan has shown that increasing the uptake of smart, small-scale water efficiency solutions, such as rainwater harvesting, for non-potable uses are a viable alternative.
Around the country, many sustainability-focused organisations have been seeing the sense in capturing this free resource.
Contact Kingspan Water & Energy to find out how the team can help your next project make every drop of rain count.