Water efficiency: The key to sustainable business operations

By Stephen Sheridan, Business Stream

illustration: Business Stream
illustration: Business Stream

Why is water efficiency important? Put simply, by using water wisely businesses and public sector organisations can benefit from both financial and environmental savings. Given the current cost of living crisis, coupled with the increasing need to tackle climate change, there has never been a better time for businesses to understand their water use and identify ways to save.

It’s estimated that the average business in the UK uses 30% more water than they need to. As a water retailer, we’re passionate about working with our customers to help them realise the benefits of reducing their water use. Over the past 14 years we have helped our customers in the UK save over GBP 335 million and 57 billion litres of water – the equivalent of almost 23,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Using water wisely has a bottom line impact
One of the key benefits of reducing water use is that it can help to generate financial savings. By implementing – often very simple steps – such as installing water saving devices and Automated Meter Readers (AMRs), or undertaking a water health check, organisations can track their consumption levels, spot any issues before they become a problem and identify opportunities to save. For example, by installing an AMR, we recently saved Network Rail over GBP 100,000 in unnecessary water costs by identifying a hidden leak at their rail depot at Slateford Road in Edinburgh. By resolving the issue, we were also able to help the rail company reduce their carbon use by over 1.24 kh per hour.

Reducing water use can also lower energy costs. Approximately 20% of a gas heated home’s heating bill comes from water used for showers, baths and the hot water tap. If you then consider the amount of hot water used in businesses, such as hotels, hospitals, gyms and leisure centres and large industrial sites, the link between using less water and reducing energy bills becomes clear.

Reducing water consumption is better for the planet
There is a strong case for reducing water use for environmental purposes too. You only need to reflect on the extreme weather conditions the country has experienced in recent years, including this summer, to understand that water is a precious resource that we need to look after. The impact of drier and hotter conditions in the UK is a concern and according to industry experts, this is only expected to get worse unless we all collectively seek to reduce our water use.

In line with our vision to make a positive difference to the environment, we have introduced a series of initiatives to help drive water efficiency. At the heart of this is our pledge to help our customers reduce their water use by 20%. To support the delivery of the pledge, we are working with our customers, in particular those that haven’t adopted water efficiency measures to date, to identify and deliver the right water efficiency solutions for their needs.

For larger users of water, we are developing our Intelligent Water Management (IWM) system, which enables us to analyse customers consumption data to identify anomalies and deliver water efficiency savings, and for our smaller customers we have issued free water efficiency packs providing water saving devices. Recognising the appetite for businesses to support their colleagues to adopt the right environmental behaviours, we’ve also created useful resources including posters that are available on our website for customers to use to help promote the importance of saving water in their workplaces.

To help spread awareness of the importance of this issue, we are partnering with the NGO, Waterwise, the leading authority on water efficiency in the UK, to help promote water efficiency and conservation to business and public sector customers across the UK. And we’re working closely with other UK water retailers and wholesalers to share best practice examples and explore how we can do even more as a sector to deliver water efficiency savings to businesses.

We all have a role to play in reducing our water use and the benefits are clear to see. Climate change is no longer something we can afford to ignore. By reducing water use businesses can help to protect what is becoming an increasingly scarce resource and generate financial savings, which is truly a win-win scenario given the current cost of living crisis.

Stephen Sheridan, Head of Account Management, Business Stream
Stephen Sheridan, Head of Account Management, Business Stream