Water Efficiency

There is potential to conserve water in all campus buildings, and laboratories provide the biggest opportunities for savings.

Students using water in a laboratory

What we are doing

We have made significant investments in reducing the University's mains water consumption, including:

  • Rainwater tanks for research
  • Low-flow taps in bathrooms
  • Specialist laboratory equipment
  • Upgrade of campus irrigation systems to use recycled water
  • Landscaping with endemic species, drought tolerant plants and shade producing trees.


  • Buildings: Molecular Life Sciences, Engineering Maths, Santos, Barr Smith South, Schulz, Physics, Waite Campus
  • Cost: $71,936
  • Lifetime savings: $2 million
  • Lifetime water savings: 806,093kL
  • Lifetime GHG emission reduction: 1,762 tonnes CO2-e
  • Average payback period: 14 years

What you can do

Laboratory processes, sanitation, air conditioning and specialist equipment require a lot of water, particularly when compared to office spaces and kitchens. For example, one litre of reverse-osmosis water typically takes 4 to 5 litres of water to produce. It may be habit to use high-quality water (de-ionised, reverse osmosis or distilled) for everything in a lab, but it's not always necessary. 

  • Use the lowest grade water appropriate to the task.
  • Switch off high water-use equipment such as reverse osmosis or water distillers when not using them.
  • Identify high water use lab processes and ask your supervisor if this process can be changed.
  • If diluting chemicals, reduce the flow and only run taps as long as necessary to achieve the appropriate concentration.
  • When washing lab ware, put the plug in and fill the sink rather than using running water.
  • If using water to cool or sanitise equipment, investigate opportunities for water re-use, such as pumps to recirculate the water through a system so that water is recycled.
  • Report dripping taps through the Infrastructure website by Requesting a Service (plumbing).