United Utilities’ graduates work with housing developers to create water efficient homes

A team of graduates at United Utilities has teamed up with Penrith-based Atkinson Building Contractors to create a pair of highly water efficient homes.

The graduates are taking part in the annual CEO Challenge which sees them tackling some of the water sector’s key issues. One of this year’s challenges is to influence house builders to change home design with water in mind.

And Atkinson Building Contractors jumped at the opportunity to take on the challenge.

Atkinson’s have worked with the graduates to put a range of measures to the test in two homes at White Ox View in Penrith, a development of 76 affordable homes being built in partnership with Riverside. The homes are set to be occupied this autumn.

Penrith water efficient homes - Aritra Das.jpgGraduate Aritra Das explained: “United Utilities already offers incentives to developers who include sustainable drainage and water efficiency measures at new housing developments. The aim of this challenge is to make this a really integral part of home design. We don’t want it to be thought of as something which is nice to do – we want to get to a situation where these measures are an automatic part of home-building.

“We’re also keen to help developers communicate with their customers about the steps they can take in their homes to save money and save water.”

The White Ox View development features two infiltration tanks which keep surface water out of the sewer system. Storing excess rainwater and allowing it to soakaway naturally to help protect local water supplies by recharging aquifers.

All homes at White Ox View include measures to limit water use to 110 litres of water, per person, per day. Now after working with the graduates, two homes also include extra measures including a 210 litre water butt, flow limiters on taps, and, a leak strip to indicate any leaks from the toilet cistern.

Neil Mckaskie, Operations Director from Atkinson Building Contractors explained why they got involved: “We’re always keen to make our homes as efficient as possible and we’ve been working with United Utilities for a while.

“It just makes sense to introduce these measures – it is better for the environment and better for our customers as by saving water, they will also save money.”

When the homes are occupied the graduates will be able to test the impact that the additional water saving features have by comparing water usage information with other homes on the development.