There has been plenty of discussions recently about the benefits that will flow from the federal government’s HomeBuilder stimulus package. These range from new homes and renovations for Australians who qualify for the scheme to ongoing employment for builders and tradespeople and the trickle-down economic effects for manufacturers and suppliers of construction products and materials.
A lesser-known but equally important benefit of this stimulus package is the potential to achieve significant environmental enhancements, by directing some of the available funding towards sustainability upgrades for housing.
Doing so will help to address climate change in two key ways.
Australia’s urban water infrastructure already struggles to meet the demands of growing populations, especially during periods of low rainfall. In 2018, Australia’s nationally-averaged annual rainfall was approximately 412.8 millimetres – notably below historic and global averages – and annual rainfalls may drop further as the effects of climate change become more pronounced.
Water storage levels in Perth in 2017 fell to 40.40 per cent, following steep declines in rainfall and catchment runoff. Melbourne’s water supplies in 2009 hit a dangerously low level of 26 per cent.
That means that several cities now rely on desalination plants to meet their regular supply needs. Perth is one of the desalination cities, and in 2017, water storage levels in that city fell to 40.40 per cent, following steep declines in rainfall and catchment runoff. Melbourne also relies on desalinated water, and in 2009, its supply hit a dangerous low of just 26 per cent.
To complicate matters, as cities are forced to respond to less overall rainfall, the occurrence and intensity of extreme rainfall events are predicted to escalate, leading to more incidents of flash flooding in urban areas, which can pollute waterways and decrease water quality.
Against this context, and with additional government stimulus available to renovators and home builders, it makes sense for recipients to incorporate sustainability measures into their plans, to improve their quality of life and long-term resilience.
Incorporating rainwater harvesting solutions, for example, will help homeowners to reduce their reliance on mains water, which is especially helpful in times of lower rainfall or drought. And localised rainwater harvesting reduces the need for new dams or desalination plants, and helps to minimise potential damage from stormwater runoff during peak rain events.
In addition, localised access to stored rainwater can help homeowners become more resilient as climate change takes hold, because stored water can be used for irrigation, car-washing, and internal use, in some cases.
In fact, many local government authorities already mandate the use of rainwater tanks in new homes, or impose stringent water and energy standards that make incorporating rainwater harvesting into the building design almost a necessity.
In NSW, for example, the most cost-effective way to comply with the mains water reduction targets in the Building Sustainability Index (BASIX) is to install rainwater harvesting solutions.
And, as one of the most successful sustainability programs in the country, BASIX has consistently achieved 40 per cent water savings in NSW since its introduction in 2004.
Given all of these conditions – and the fact that stimulus funding is currently available to homeowners – it makes sense to specify and incorporate products and solutions from Australia’s largest supplier of rainwater harvesting systems, Kingspan Water and Energy.
To make it easy for architects and specifiers to do so, Kingspan’s standard water tanks specs are available for download for use in Building Information Modelling (BIM) programs.
The company has also invested in continuing professional development (CPD) programs for architects and specifiers. These are based on the successful Rainwater Harvesting Residential Design Specification guide, prepared by Urban Water Cycle Solutions and Rainwater Harvesting Australia.
Meanwhile, Kingspan’s service division provides expert advice to consumers on the upkeep of their tanks and associated components and offers assistance in the form of problem analysis, and maintenance and repair solutions.
Kingspan produces a range of tank sizes in shapes that include round, square and slimline; these start at just 700 mm wide, making them ideal for small lots, and existing gardens and outdoor areas.
Prices start from just $1161 for a 3000 litre round tank, making Kingspan’s products an extremely affordable way to sustainably upgrade Australian homes and cities.
See the website for a range of common tank sizes and prices.
Kingspan has also recently announced the Smart Tank: a new digitally based product that provides home and building owners with real-time data on tank levels, rainfall events and rainwater tank consumption. The new Smart Tank app simplifies the processes associated with rainwater harvesting and water use and provides prompts around maintenance and repair.
Investing in Kingspan rainwater harvesting solutions involves a minimal upfront cost to achieve sustainability upgrades that will pay significant dividends for homeowners as the climate changes.