Silvermere Guest House have reduced their potable water usage by around 40% by implementing a number of innovative water saving initiatives. These include recycling roof and bath water, filtering stormwater through ponds, and minimising garden watering using mulch and grass cuttings. The reduction in water usage has in turn resulted in a significant decline in Silvermere’s carbon dioxide emissions.
Silvermere Guesthouse and the associated restaurant Nineteen23 operate out of heritage listed buildings at Wentworth Falls.
Built in 1923, the guesthouse’s original construction included a number of low carbon features:
- Triple brick stuccoed walls to insulate from heat and cold
- North facing aspect with large glass windows to capture the winter sun
- Covered portico to shade from the summer sun
In the last twenty years, the guesthouse operator’s Cathy and Lew have also implemented a number of measures to reduce and recycle waste, minimise energy use, and re-use water.
“There has never been any need to introduce air conditioning into the building”, says Cathy. “All the windows are shuttered, and the north facing roof now houses 18 solar panels”.
Capturing rainwater, recycling waste water
By capturing rainwater from their rooftop, it is estimated that Silvermere have cut their use of potable water by over 30% - a saving of almost 800kL a year.
Roof run off and spa bath water is stored in two underground tanks, with a capacity of 90,000 litres each. This water is then used to irrigate the guesthouse gardens and lawns.
The guesthouse has also implemented a sophisticated stormwater water system. All water that overflows from the tanks is discharged to two water lily ponds before it enters the catchment area at Wentworth Falls Lake. This ensures that run off is well treated and reduces risk of pollution.
“Frogs, skinks, and dragonflies have found a home in the ponds”, says Cathy. “An unexpected side benefits has been a reduction in the summer mosquito population”.
Silvermere’s garden also feature native plants with low watering needs, furthering reduce the need for potable water supplies.
All small tree and garden trimmings are mulched and used on the gardens to retain moisture and maintain soil pH levels.
“It has hardly rained since February”, reports Cathy, “But we haven’t needed to water the lawn, because grass cuttings are used an an effective mulch and retain moisture”.
Further carbon reductions
Since joining the Low Carbon Living program, Silvermere have continued to reduce their water consumption. The initial audit conducted as part of the Low Carbon Living program identified opportunities to reduce water use through more efficient taps and shower heads. After adopting some of these recommendations, Silvermere saw a further drop in potable water use of 89kL (5%) by the time of their second assessment.
The adoption of these recommendations - combined with the actions they had already undertaken – has earned Silvermere a Gold rating under the Low Carbon Living program.
Cathy also outlined further energy saving measures planned for the next 12 months: “Our plans include increasing the number of solar panels, and to purchase a rechargeable robot lawn mower to replace the current petrol burning mowers”.