The conservation of energy has been a hot topic for the last few years. The effects of global warming have forced the world to take note and take action; governments, businesses and home owners have been (correctly) burdened with the social responsibility to do what they can to reduce their carbon footprint.
Energy – gas and electricity – is an obvious expense on a balance sheet and so most businesses are naturally inclined to focus a great deal of effort on finding ways to minimise this expense. As it so happens, decisions made for economic reasons often turn out to be the sustainable route as well, a happy coincidence, but there is a cost that companies often overlook, and that is water.
Water is usually overshadowed by the price of energy but it bears hidden costs that it would benefit businesses to take note of, such as the carbon and monetary costs of supplying that water, heating it and treating it after use. In other words, water is intrinsically linked to energy use and carbon emissions – so why aren’t we trying harder to save it?
Recent estimates suggest that if we continue business as usual, global demand for water will exceed viable resources by 40 per cent by the year 2030. Policymakers are thus under pressure to tighten water regulations amidst growing concern about scarcity and pollution. As an outcome, businesses will be compelled to implement sustainable water strategies. This means recycling more water and looking at new ways in which to develop goods and services with a much smaller water footprint. And for smaller companies, awareness is a good starting point.
Martin Stuchtey, director of the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment, says that businesses need to shift to a circular economy for water:
“We need a completely new mindset of not contaminating water in the first place. We need to treat it like a durable and keep it in closed loops; or like a consumable, but return it in a way so that it is cheap or beneficial to take into second or third use.”
Companies should start to look beyond their fences; to collaborate with others – experts in the field – and encourage respective suppliers, partners, customers and others to work with them in their effort to implement water-saving plans. Industry sectors also need to join forces to manage water more efficiently, Stutchey argues:
“There might be ways that a handshake between the agriculture and industries might provide the better solution. Industrial grey water, if it’s not too contaminated, could in fact be an interesting input into agriculture. We need to go across sectors and manage water in more effective and circular ways.”
The good news is that an effective water management plan can transform the economic prospects of a business – if ever there was an incentive!
For more information on water sustainability or any plumbing-related issues feel free to contact the CH Systems team on 0208 302 8149 or firstname.lastname@example.org