May/June 2013

The Charities Facilities Management Group is running an survey for members to assess recycling and waste management policies and costs. We will discuss the survey results at a Charities FM Group meeting later in the year.

Sustainable Church Buildings Project to help Islington churches cut energy use

The Diocese of London and the Cloudesley charitable trust have launched a new project to help Islington parishes reduce their energy use through the care and maintenance of their church buildings.

Churches Sustainability Review launches call for evidence

A Government task force has launched an online survey asking for advice on how to look after church buildings and how to keep them part of local communities. 

Stopping drips is a simple way to reduce water waste (Photo: Doladimeji via Wikimedia Commons)

Saving water is part of the wider picture of sustainable facilities management; it's good for the environment and can also save your charity money by reducing your bills for water use and sewage services.  Facilities managers are generally responsible for managing the consumption and disposal of water.  This page sets out some key steps facilities managers can take to reduce water usage.

First steps


The first step is to audit where water is used your charity.

Measure how much water your organisation is using.  Check your water meters and bills and find out how much water use and disposal is costing you. Also review the indirect costs related to water use:  the costs of water heating, plumbing and drainage repairs and maintenance, as well as consumables such as laundry products.

Understanding the complete picture of your charity's  water use will help to establish base-line information, identify ways of saving water and set targets.


Develop a plan for reducing the amount of water your charity uses. This should be a simple, step-by-step guide outlining your specific goals and strategies.


Communicate your plan and seek to get buy-in at senior level. Emphasise the benefits:

  • saving money
  • reducing your charity’s carbon footprint
  • contributing to corporate responsibility goals
  • saving energy - using less hot water means you will be paying lower heating bills

Taking action

Options for reducing your water use

  • reduce the flow of water
  • modify existing items so that they use less water
  • replace existing items with water-saving equipment 
  • re-use grey water
  • educate staff about using less water

Locate and Fix Leaks

Prevent unnecessary water loss at your properties by finding and repairing all leaks and developing a preventive maintenance program. Part of this program should be to make a checklist of all potential sources of leaks – and instigate regular inspections of equipment.

Toilets and shower rooms

  • install water-saving fixtures in toilets and showering areas. These may include:
  • water-efficient toilets and urinals
  • tap aerators to reduce the flow of water from taps and shower head


  • install tap aerators
  • use dishwaters which are designed to use less water
  • if your charity has laundry facilities, consider installing washing machines which use less water.


Do not hose down paths and driveways as a matter of habit. Use a broom to sweep them.

Landscaping choices: use plants which are tough enough to survive without irrigation. Turf over those areas which will be used for recreational activities. 

Harvest rainwater: use water butts to collect rainwater and use it for watering.

If you use a sprinkler system, ensure that the sprinklers are not spraying paved surfaces. Don’t use hoses and sprinters when it is windy.

Inspect sprinkler systems regularly to ensure that they are functioning as intended.

If you have a grounds maintenance contract discuss your water saving policy with them and ensure that contractors follow your policies.

Advanced steps

If you are undertaking refurbishment or new developments, consider installing grey water systems. Grey water is tap water that has been used: in washing machines, tubs, showers, and bathroom sinks. It is not potable - safe to drink - but it is also not toxic and generally disease-free. Grey water reclamation is the process that reuses this water instead of simply piping it into a sewage system.

Rainwater harvesting systems  can be a viable option for charities where a building has a large roof area and the organisation also has  a high demand for nonpotable water.

Involve your staff and service users

  • Educating your staff and users to be aware of sustainability issues is a key step. 
  • publicise your water conservation goals
  • build awareness of water waste
  • encourage people to ensure faucets are turned off and to report leaking taps
  • give recognition to those who get involved 

Useful links:

Your water company may also be able to offer advice. Not sure which company supplies your water: The WaterUK website has a map that shows suppliers around the country.

The charity Waterwise has a website with advice on water saving.

11th Century Gloucester Cathedral installs solar panels

Gloucester Cathedral is installing solar panels as part of plan to make ancient building fit for the future.

Gloucester Cathedral plans to install up to 200 solar panels on on its roof. The panels will generate 25,000 kilowatts of energy - and will enable the Cathedral to reduce its energy bills by a quarter.

Heritage Lottery Fund launches new £8million resilience programme

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has launched a new £8million annual investment programme to help charities build their resilience. The programme will offer grants of £3,000 and £250,000.

The application guidelines suggest several areas which could be of interest to charity facilities managers and others responsible for strategy for charity property.

HLF says the grants could be used for:

Private Members Bill on Safeguarding the Environment post Brexit

Geraint Davies MP has introduced a Private Member’s Bill in Parliament to make provision for the safeguarding of standards of environmental protection derived from European Union legislation after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

the recycling logo

The following is a report on a meeting of the Charities Facilities Management Group which focused on recycing.

David Prestage of the BPR Group outlined how to design and implement an effective recycling scheme. The BPR Group is the parent company of Paper Round, the recycling company which was originally set up as a Friends of the Earth project in 1988.

Prestage outlined the main elements to look at when planning a recycling scheme. These include:


  • Reviewing your existing infrastructure
  • Measuring your waste volumes and weights
  • Assessing space availability

First steps

An important first step is to “bin the bin”:

  • Remove under desk bins
  • Install central banks of bins
  • Segregate recyclables and non recyclables


Prestige said a communication strategy was crucial to implementing a successful scheme. Prestage recommended obtaining senior management buy-in and engaging with staff and running regular communications campaigns. He also outlined some of the benefits of a good recycling scheme, including reduced expenditure on cleaning, improved office environments and reduced risks of pests.

Prestige ended his presentation with a case study of the National Theatre’s efforts to implement a recycling scheme. The recycling service at the Theatre caters for the public areas, café and bar as well as back-of-house storage areas and a large area of office space.

You can see a pdf copy of his presentation slides here. 

Government's New Solar Strategy targets Commercial and Community Roofs

Energy Minister Greg Barker has announced plans to turn public buildings, schools, factories, and community buildings into "solar hubs".

The Minister was launching the Governments new strategy document on solar energy.  This includes a range of proposals which could make it easier for charities to install solar pv on their buildings.   

Recycling Rates fall Across London

Almost half of London's 33 London councils have recorded a fall in the proportion of household waste they recycled in 2012-13 compared with year before. 

Annual waste statistics from the Department for Environment (DEFRA) also revealed that more than 40% of London's waste was incinerated.  This is a rise of 17 percentage points over the past two years.