Dylan Hearn, head of product management at Heatrae Sadia:
1. Please tell me about Heatrae Sadia's background in the building services environment?
We’ve been operating in the building services environment for a number of years, with many of our core products, including drinking water units and water heaters, providing hassle-free solutions to building and facilities managers. Our success in this arena is due in part to the long-term support that we offer, which provides peace of mind and ease of maintenance to our customers.
Heatrae Sadia is an industry member of CIBSE and SOPHE, and our sales team are members too. We actively support the CIBSE Young Engineers Network and feel passionately about supporting the building services industry.
2. Drinking water provision in buildings appears to be a major push for Heatrae Sadia with an increasing number of building managers considering moves away from single use plastics. How far has work progressed in this environmental/ecological minefield - cross sector?
There has been a major cultural shift over recent years, with more and more people using reusable bottles in an effort to reduce single use plastics. In the UK alone, over 38.5 million plastic bottles are used every day, and whilst half of these make it to a recycling plant, each day more than 16 million go to landfill, are burnt or make their way into the oceans - and the impact of this has really begun to hit home.
This year in particular, we have seen major corporations from the BBC to Starbucks employing drastic measures to reduce their single use plastic usage, and this has made a real mark on the public consciousness. Many businesses are capitalising on this trend by advertising free drinking water stations on their premises. Revolutionary apps, such as Refill, allow users to locate their nearest drinking water outlet and therefore fill their reusable bottles rather than pay for a bottle of water from the shop. This scheme benefits building owners, as it drives footfall to their premises and therefore potentially increases business.
For building managers, high quality drinking water units present an opportunity to cut down on single use plastics, whilst offering hydration to occupants and even an incentive for possible customers to enter their buildings.
The heatwave which has hit the UK this summer has only highlighted this trend, as chilled water becomes an essential commodity during the unusually high temperatures.
3. Is there already a take-up in plumbed-in solutions?
We've seen a strong rise in orders and interest across all business sectors, as the benefits of plumbed-in options become more well-known. From a plastic reduction perspective, plumbed-in units do not use the plastic urn traditionally required by water coolers, and from a health perspective, several reports have indicated that these plastic urns can pose a danger if not properly maintained.
Furthermore, plumbed-in drinking water products are often the most economical drinking water solution. Drawing their water directly from the mains, plumbed-in units are hassle free and financially efficient – and they’re easy to install, which helps to prevent initial disruption.
These units offer many advantages, such as the ability to be thermostatically controlled and quickly and simply maintained. They also offer a high-level of hygiene and are easy and safe to use, without the need for wasteful plastic bottles.
4. What sort of buildings are your main focus?
There is currently strong demand coming from retail environments, commercial buildings, educational facilities and the healthcare sector. We have also seen a lot of interest from the rail and air industry, offering free water at train stations and airports.
That being said, we work across all sectors, as drinking water is obviously a universal need, and most sectors are actively looking to reduce their consumption of single use plastic.
5. I am presuming schools are a target area - in terms of health benefits too?
Yes, absolutely. Maintaining an adequate level of hydration offers a variety of health benefits to young people, including greater concentration and increased energy levels, as well as promoting proper blood circulation. Additionally, multiple studies have correlated the relationship between increased water intake and higher grades.
However, ensuring the younger generation drinks enough water can be difficult. Many parents admit their children will drink nothing throughout the school day – in fact, research has shown that a large proportion only drink a quarter of the water they need.This means that schools are under pressure, especially during the summer months, to ensure pupils get the hydration they need.
What’s more, young people are amongst the most passionate groups about preserving the environment. Some have even launched their own initiatives, for example, students at a school in Brighton implored staff to help remove plastic bottles from all buildings – with the headmaster making headlines across the UK when he announced that he would punish children who used them in the same way that he disciplined those who smoked cigarettes.
These factors mean that we get a lot of interest from educational facilities, both in terms of installing new drinking water facilities and ensuring that existing provisions are properly maintained.
6. Are there any safety issue building services engineers/building managers should be aware of?
One of the key considerations is boiling water. Many drinking water solutions offer both hot and chilled water, which means there is a potential scalding risk. Building stakeholders should ensure that any product specified which features boiling water capability has adequate safety features to prevent the accidental dispensation of hot water.
Aside from this, units should be regularly serviced for optimum performance, but as all of our products are permanently plumbed in they do not need PAT testing.
7. Are there any legal considerations that must be adhered to?
Installation would need to comply with current electrical and plumbing regulations – which is no different from any other type of installation. Stakeholders should also make sure that drinking water products are approved by WRAS, KIWA or an equivalent body.
8. Do you offer training to buildings managers?
We are able to offer training both at any of our national training centres or on site if required.
9. What are the main maintenance issue you have encountered to date?
The core maintenance issues which we encounter are around scale build up and not changing filters, leading to a slow-down in flow rate. If the unit is properly serviced, these issues are highly unlikely to arise.
10. How long would the average installation be expected to last?
This depends on how well the product is maintained, we would always recommend regular servicing for longevity. We offer two years warranty on our drinking water solutions, so our customers can feel confident in the products specified.