Case Study: Unite Students
A complicated leak repair gave water retailer Source for Business the opportunity to offer pro active water efficiency advice to one of its largest – and newest – customers.
Source for Business signed a £4.5 million contract with Unite Students, the UK’s largest manager and developer of purpose-built student accommodation in January, following a tender process that was managed by the energy consultants Ignite Energy.
Two months into the contract, Source for Business investigated a sudden increase in consumption at Unite Students’ Stratford One site, in East London. The increase in consumption had been detected by Ignite’s daily exception monitoring regime, and was followed up to confirm that the leak was not internal and replicated on the meter reading. A leak detection team quickly established that there was a leak which was losing 540 litres of water every minute. As well as wasting a precious resource, this would also have been costing Unite Students a significant amount of money.
The team used technology including listening devices to pinpoint the exact location of the leak. Engineers were then called in to repair the damage – which proved to be a lot more complicated than was initially thought due to the nature of the site. As well as being next to a railway line, there was some confusion about who had responsibility for the affected area which required to conduct research. Once this was clarified, various permissions had to be obtained from the landlord before work could begin. As repairs were due to get under way, there was some concern about the proximity of the nearby railway line and the stability of a bank that acts as a boundary between the sites. This was resolved and work started – just as the Beast from the East hit the UK, bringing freezing temperatures and heavy snow, which made for challenging working conditions.
The leak had been caused by a burst pipe and when the repair team started to dig down to replace this section, they found that it lay beneath an area of reinforced concrete which was stabilising nearby structures. Instead, the team had to dig another access hole, allowing them to replace the section of pipe. The repair was successful and a reduction in consumption was seen immediately.
Source for Business then began liaising with the water wholesaler in order to agree a leak allowance so that Unite Students were not left out of pocket for a leak that was not their fault. This proved to be a lengthy process that saw Source for Business successfully challenge the wholesaler’s original provision and to agree an allowance of £49,200 – a positive result for Unite Students.
Following the resolution of both the repair and the leak allowance, Source for Business have worked with Ignite Energy to develop a step by step action list that will lead to any future consumption concerns being identified, located and resolved at an earlier stage. These discussions have also led to Ignite and Source offering water efficiency advice which will lead to reduced consumption, and lower bills, across Unite Students’ portfolio of 140 properties in 28 university cities in England and Scotland.
“The team from Source for Business worked with a range of stakeholders to co-ordinate this challenging job. They showed high levels of professionalism and determination to fix a technically difficult leak under increasingly challenging conditions, working through the night in sub-zero temperatures and heavy snow to safely and quickly resolve it,” said James Tiernan, Group Energy and Environment Manager at Unite Students.
“I was impressed that the leak detection team continued working during the Beast from the East and this was greatly appreciated, proving the severity of the leak. Overall, it was brilliant to work in partnership with Source for Business, despite having only been in contract with them for a matter of weeks. Together, this leak was contained and rectified in a highly effective manner,” said Amy Hooper, Portfolio Team Manager at Ignite Energy.
“Repairing the leak and then resolving the leak allowance proved to be a lot more complicated than was first thought but our engineers and account managers worked extremely hard to achieve a good result for our customer. We pride ourselves on working in partnership with our customers and we’re looking forward to using our value added services to help Unite Students to use water more efficiently, saving time and money as a result,” said Richard Stanbrook, director of Source for Business.