A series of equipment upgrades undertaken over the past five years at CSIRO Livestock Industries' Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) in Geelong has resulted in a 25 per cent reduction in the facility's water usage.
AAHL's Director, Dr Martyn Jeggo, says the reduction follows a multi-million dollar investment in upgrading and replacing the facility's engineering equipment.
'The result is in line with the aims of AAHL's Capital Improvement Program (ACIP) - to provide state-of-the-art equipment, reduce running costs and environmental impact, increase energy efficiency and simplify operation of plant equipment,' he says.
AAHL is one of the world's leading and safest biocontainment research laboratories dedicated primarily to diagnosing exotic (foreign) and emerging animal diseases.
'In the past five years we have made significant changes to the way the facility operates in order to reduce water and energy consumption,' Dr Jeggo says.
'Due to the nature of our work, a fundamental biocontainment security requirement is that AAHL staff have to take a full three-minute shower when exiting the microbiological secure area.'
'In June this year we replaced 100 shower heads with water saving shower devices and, based on a three-minute shower, we will save up to 500000 litres of water each year on showers alone.'
In addition to saving water, AAHL recently offered to provide 90000 litres per week of its recycled grey water free-of-charge to local community groups three of which now share the resource to water their grounds.
AAHL is also reducing the amount of energy it uses.
As part of an air-handling upgrade, which commenced in November 2007, five fresh air intake fans and 224 air handling fans are being fitted with variable-speed motor controls.
Each fan will operate at the minimum speed necessary to provide the required air flow and pressure, which will markedly reduce energy use.
According to Dr Jeggo, significant energy savings from this upgrade are expected in six months.
In December last year AAHL submitted the facility's waterMAP plan for the previous two years to Barwon Water outlining how the organisation has reduced its water usage.
'Our long-term plan at AAHL is to continue improving our equipment and procedures to ensure we lessen our environmental footprint further by saving more water and energy,' Dr Jeggo says.