We’re currently testing the theory that ‘water is cheaper than electricity for cooling the environment you live in’.

We’ve partnered up with leading researchers from the University of Melbourne and the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities to test this hypothesis.

The Urban Heat Island effect is the build-up of heat in cities due to the absorption and reflection of heat by solid surfaces, and also the emission of heat from appliances such as air conditioners, and machines such as cars.

Urban heat island effect

Urban cores retain heat for a variety of reasons, creating a heat island effect. Researchers illustrated the difference between rural areas, leafy neighbourhood and downtown areas with the following summer example.

Climate station at Aquarevo

Research shows the urban heat island effect can be mitigated by living green spaces and the shade and evapotranspiration benefits that come with them. (Evapotranspiration is the process by which water is transferred from the land to the atmosphere by evaporation from the soil and other surfaces and by transpiration from plants.)

With the Urban Cooling Project, we wanted to see if we could demonstrate this at our Aquarevo house, situated in Lyndhurst. We’re using our OneBox®+ controller to manage and monitor a climate station, sensors, smart irrigation and misting to cool the landscape and mitigate the Urban Heat Island Effect.

Alongside the scientific grade climate station of our research partners, we have also developed our own low cost prototype sensors. These prototypes of low cost environmental monitoring sensors have been installed around the Aquarevo house and they constantly monitor the ambient temperature, ambient light intensity, relative humidity, soil moisture and soil temperature.

Climate Station at Aquarevo

Smart irrigation system

Data is fed to the OneBox®+ controller and to our SCADA system to enable remote monitoring, and control of the irrigation and misting system we have installed.

The smart irrigation system around the Aquarevo house utilises rainwater backed up by recycled water supply and uses the data from the sensors and bureau of meteorology to decide when to water for the maximum cooling impact.

The OneBox®+ controller is programmed to irrigate the landscape by required volumes and at required times based on real-time soil moisture feedback provided by our sensors.

The front courtyard and back yard are equipped with misting systems running on potable water supply and promotes outdoor activities in that space on a hot summer day.

Over this summer of 2020 we will be quantifying the cooling performance of the urban cooling landscape irrigated by our smart irrigation system installed around the Aquarevo house.

Smart irrigation system at Aquarevo

Control site at Lyndhurst Primary School

We’ve secured a Control site to support the research at Lyndhurst Primary School where we’ve installed a second scientific grate climate station and our prototype environmental monitoring sensors.

To provide the students with hands on experience in planting, watering and maintaining plants, we’ve also installed wicking garden beds, some of which have been planted with indigenous edible plants.

With our initiatives at the school we hope to support their curriculum and help enhance students understanding of the project, water and its role in the environment.

Planting with Lyndhurst Primary School students

Working in partnership

We're working in partnership with the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities, the University of Melbourne and Lyndhurst primary School for this research and development project.

Water Sensitive Cities Conference 2021 - Aquarevo site tour

On this tour, find out how South East Water’s OneBox®+ controller can manage and monitor sensors, irrigation and misting to cool the landscape and mitigate urban heat. Sensors will monitor ambient temperature, ambient light intensity, relative humidity, soil moisture and soil temperature. The research is investigating whether it’s cheaper to cool our cities with water, rather than electricity.

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