Bexleyheath shopping centre boosts green credentials with help of environmentally conscious manager

PUBLISHED: 12:00 18 July 2014

Sue Wilder, with the water harvesting system. Picture:

Sue Wilder, with the water harvesting system. Picture:

When a woman saw the harm that rubbish and water wastage was doing, she decided to take action.

Sue Wilders, Operations Manager at Broadway Shopping Centre, Bexleyheath, was concerned that 8 million litres of water a year was being flushed down the centre’s public toilets.

Sue, a keen and experienced scuba diver in her spare time, spent months researching the best system to improve the water usage efficiency of the community shopping hub.

She read up extensively on water harvesters before employing a specialist contractor to install a new state of the art water harvesting system.

It helps to collect water from the roof of the lift motor room, the atrium and all along the sides of the building before running it through a filter into a 15,000 litre tank which directly services the public toilets.

Sue, who has worked at the shopping centre for more than 20 years and lives in Bexleyheath, said: “It all started when I was looking into the use of water butts to collect water for the pressure hoses we use to clean out the bins in our service area. We now have five of those too.

“It occurred to me that we had all this rainwater collecting on the building and it was simply going down the drains and there had to be something better we could do with it, particularly when you look at the size of our water bills, particularly in regards to the public toilets.

“Saving money and water in this way can only be a positive thing for both our tenants and our shoppers.”

The new system is expected to save 1600 cubic metres of water a year or 1.6 million litres, with an annual cost saving to the centre of more than £2,000, at least 20 per cent of the current water bill of about £10,000.

The huge amount of water saved each year would be enough to fill five 25 metre swimming pools or around 200,000 baths.

Sue explained that it was all part and parcel of the shopping centre’s drive to improve their green commitments.

She said: “We do a lot of recycling and have done for some years now and we are very proud of the fact we no longer send anything to landfill.

“Together with the businesses, we recycle as much metal, cardboard, coat hangers, polystyrene, glass, plastic, wood pallets and food waste as we can.

“It is all sorted on site and then removed by specialist contractors who make it useful again, instead of dumping it in a hole somewhere.

“We are also currently investing in and changing our lighting systems at the shopping centre to reduce our electricity usage. Some of our corridors are now fitted with lights which only come on when people enter and turn themselves off when there is no one there.

“It is a matter which is close to my heart. When I am diving, I see the harm which man made rubbish does to the environment and I am forever collecting it up and bringing it back to the surface.

“I think we all have our part to play in making sure this is minimised as much as possible and you get a sense of achievement from playing your part in improving Broadway Shopping Centre’s effect on the environment.”

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