Tapping into grey and rainwater is NZ shopping centre first

29 July 2014

Bayfair Shopping Centre in the Bay of Plenty is home to NZ’s first grey and rainwater harvesting system in a shopping centre. Read on to find out more.

In what is believed to be a national first for a shopping centre, Bayfair Shopping Centre has installed a grey and rainwater harvesting system to reduce consumption of potable water by 60% (equivalent to more than 2 million litres per year). Grey water is water that customers have used to wash their hands; it is captured and mixed with rain water, treated and reused to flush the toilets.

Water use for the public central amenities area is approximately 8,589 litres (3134 cubic meters per year) of water per day, and it is expected that the rainwater harvesting will capture and replace 18% of the potable (flushing) water supply each year and capture and use 42% of grey water. This is expected to reduce consumption of potable water by 60% of the current water usage for the centre’s central amenities area (2,000,000 litres per year).

The harvesting project began in 2012, when Bayfair undertook a refurbishment of its main amenities including public bathrooms and parents’ room. As part of the project, pre-plumbing was done to connect a grey water harvesting system as the first step in the centre’s vision to capture and replace potable water.

Bayfair Shopping Centre Manager and new SBN board member Steve Ellingford has been a key driver in Bayfair’s vision to capture and replace potable water. Realising this vision is the result of collaboration between several parties, including the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Tauranga City, Beca, Tauranga Hardware & Plumbing and Caw Electrical.

“Water, and growing demand for it, is recognised as a key issue across the globe. We can sit and wait for the impacts of increased water demands to affect businesses and communities or we can act. This project is about taking action, showing leadership and showcasing what can be done when you bring a group of committed organisations and individuals together to deliver a project that is both unique and innovative in a retail environment,” says Steve.

“As a hub of the local community with annual foot traffic in the millions, it goes without saying that we have an impact on our region. It’s our aim to offer not only a sustainable environment for our shoppers, but one that educates people on everyday, sustainable practices.

“Bayfair is constantly seeking to reduce our impact on the environment and it’s exciting to be able to offer a New Zealand first, harvesting grey and rain water in a major shopping centre. With water restrictions becoming more common, especially in our region, we want visits to our centre to offer a learning experience and an opportunity for the community to help facilitate more projects. This project also demonstrates what can be achieved in an existing building,” he says.

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s pivotal role in Bayfair’s grey and rainwater harvesting project began when the centre applied to the Council’s environmental enhancement fund for help with the project. Thanks to a common goal to conserve water and educate the public about the importance of water conservation, the regional council backed the project and provided vital seed funding for its commencement.

Kerry Gosling, Community Engagement Advisor at the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, says the water recycling initiative at Bayfair is an innovative project that offers great educational value for the wider Bay of Plenty region.

“This project is a national first and we are really excited to have had a hand in it. It’s great to see a shopping centre in our region at the forefront of sustainable practices, and we hope to see more organisations follow suit. It’s our hope that Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty region take the national lead in water conservation, and this is a wonderful first step,” she says.

Bayfair’s amenities began harvesting grey and rainwater in May 2014 and they were officially switched on at the end of June 2014.

Bayfair partners