ANU Spaces – Stephen Fahey

26 June 2017

Meet Stephen Fahey, who has the job of looking after the University's energy and water usage across campus. Stephen's office manages the electricity, water and gas utility bills for ANU. He has also overseen the mass rollout of special computerised water logger meters that allow ANU to monitor water usage and investigate swiftly if there has been a spike in water consumption at any number of sites across campus. The Sustainability Office won the first Internet of Things (IoT) Award - an award that 'recognises the use of technology to solve real-world business and societal problems'.

Stephen, what is your favourite part of the ANU campus?

To be truthful I don't have a favourite spot. I really love the whole University and I love the whole landscape of the University. My background is I used to work at the Steelworks at Port Kembla, so coming from that environment which is very dirty and polluted makes me appreciate the whole campus.

Can you tell us about why you put this application in for this award and tell us a little bit about what you had to satisfy in terms of criteria?

It was the service providers who were asked to nominate projects for the awards. Watergroup nominated the ANU project for the award. They considered this project, in regards to this award criteria, was the best that they've done and so they nominated the ANU for the IoT award.

Tell us about the ANU water project Watergroup were involved in?

On the campus we have more than 180 Icon Water meters. Every building has a water meter and a lot of landscaped areas have water meters as well. Historically the water meters are read every three months by Icon Water and we receive the invoice. It is possible to have leaks in the landscape, but they can go unnoticed if the water doesn't bubble up and the ground gets soft, sometimes it can find its way into the stormwater drains and you don't know that you're losing the water. This is a major issue for the University because we're wasting water and it's also costing us money.

In 2016 Facilities and Services put out a tender to have smart loggers installed and connected to all the water meters and this enables the University to collect real time data from the meters on water usage. Watergroup were the successful contractors, they won the tender to supply and install data loggers on the water meters across campus.  The system is web based, Staff and students are given a password and you can log on and look at the consumption of any meter. Email notifications are sent when a meter is using more water than it historically has, enabling Facilities and Services working with building custodians to investigate the increase in water consumption and quickly repair any leaks. Through this project we can measure in real time campus water usage and better manage water consumption within buildings and on the landscape.

What was the award that ANU received?

It's the Australian Internet of Things Award and 2017 was the inaugural year for these awards. The award recognises technologies and concepts solving real world business and societal problems  through the use of the internet.

The benefits of conserving water is obviously two-fold to do with budgets and also for environmental purposes. What advice would you have for the community to conserve water?

The ANU is one of the largest water users in the ACT and the largest consumer of water on campus is student residences with showering making up a lot of that water usage. I would encourage students to consider the amount of time they take to shower and try to limit shower times to 5 minutes.

The take-home message for staff and students is to use the minimum amount of water they can - be water wise - if they do see any leaks within buildings or the landscape, to either report it to their building manager or if they are unsure who to report it to, email or phone 6125 4000.