Blog Post: Thursday March 22, 2018

Water saving week – saving water in your workplace

We often think about how we use water in or home, but do you think about this in your workplace?

In this blog post we outline simple actions you can take to reduce water use at work and in conjunction with services from your water company. Savings of between 30 and 50% can be achieved by investing in no- and low-cost water reduction techniques and technologies. A company with an annual turnover of £2 million could save up to £20,000 per year

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Picture – Water leakage is a major profit monster that can cost small businesses (Resource Efficient Scotland)

 

Choose a retail water company that can help you with water efficiency

Since 2008 in Scotland and April 2017 in England, non-household water customers have been able to choose their water retail company. This is really about the “customer-facing” services including billing customers, handling payments, reading meters, and taking calls from customers about network related issues. You can find out more about water retail companies in England through Open Water here. A list of retail water companies in Scotland is available here.

A key benefit of retail competition in Scotland was water efficiency services. There was hope that this would be seen in England also, however the experience has varied for many customers. Below is a graph from a recent report Waterwise published on water efficiencies services being offered. These are some of the key areas you can ask about when looking for a new water retailer to support your business (full report available here).

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Figure – Percentage of retail water companies offering water efficiency services on their websites (November 2017)

 

How can these services help you save water?

Service

How can this help save water?

Smart metering and online billing

“If you can’t manage it, you can’t measure it” – many retailers will provide you with much more frequent meter readings via smart metering and online billing. Understanding your water use patterns can help identify leaks, which can waste water and damage property. This also helps with water auditing, benchmarking and evaluating the benefits of retrofitting water efficient fittings, fixtures and appliances.

Water auditing (on-site)

A water audit is a key first step to reducing water use in the workplace. Find out more from Resource Efficient Scotland on how to do this (here) or ask your retail water company for support. Another guide is available from WRAP here.

Rainwater harvesting

Rainwater harvesting can be useful for a range of business and means that we aren’t using potable quality water when it isn’t needed. See this guide from WRAP Cymru.

Leak detection

It is important to identify leaks early before damage can occur to property and also to reduce costs from leaks with a long lead time. Leak detection can be linked with smart metering or a range of other devices. Resource Efficient Scotland lists leaks as a major profit impact on SMEs.

Retrofit

Retrofitting can range from simple measures such as hippo bags in toilets and water efficiency taps and showers to more complicated changes to cleaning and processes.

Developing a water strategy

A water strategy sets out a clear approach to auditing water use, developing retrofit and behaviour change options, and working across the business to deliver this. A water strategy can help deliver actions under your Environmental Management System and for Corporate Social Responsibility reporting.

Behaviour/ education

This is a key area that is often missed out, however changes to behaviour can lead to significant reductions in water use. Some simple behaviours from the Resource Efficient Scotland Toolbox Talk (here):

  • don’t leave taps running

  • report leaks immediately

  • don’t leave any equipment running that uses water when not in use

  • look out for any opportunities to save water – don’t assume someone else has identified the opportunity

  • don’t overfill kettles

Water recycling

A WRAP guide on direct reuse or reclamation and reuse states “Reclamation and reuse offer some of the best opportunities for improving water efficiency on commercial and industrial sites, often with considerable cost savings, particularly if product or energy recovery is possible”. Read more here to support your conversations with retailers who may be able to implement these solutions for you.

Online tools

Some retailers offer easy-to-use online tools to track you water use and benchmark between your sites and similar companies.

Integrated water management

Water retailers can supply both water and wastewater services. Taking an integrated approach can help make your business more resilient to drought, flooding and reduce pollution.

 

Although it may seem like it rains in Wales all the time, the geography and topography mean that rivers flow quickly to the sea and there is no groundwater. Businesses can save money on their water bills but also energy bills by taking simple water efficiency measures. Welsh Water supplies 100,000 business customers in Wales and adjoining parts of England, via Cambrian Utilities, and  states that “companies that adopt a systematic approach to water reduction typically achieve a 20 – 50% decrease in the amount of water they use”. Find out more about water efficiency in Wales here. Business Wales also has guidance on developing a water efficiency plan here.Saving water in Wales and Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland water says that “reducing water use through efficiency measures will reduce your water bills and reduce the amount of energy required to produce water therefore reducing CO2 emissions”. Find out more from Northern Ireland Water here. The Consumer Council for Northern Ireland also holds a ‘Water Champion’ award and has produced guides “Every Drop Counts – Business” and “Every Drop Counts – Agricultural” to help businesses and farms improve their water efficiency, get the best service and save money on their bills (here).

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Picture – Northern Ireland Water Champion Award (The Consumer Council)

 

Water Saving Week and Waterwise Water Efficiency Awards

Waterwise also runs biennial water efficiency awards that recognise projects, organisations and products helping achieve our vision that water will be used wisely, every day, everywhere. This will be held next in 2019 – keep checking the Waterwise website and sign up to our newsletter for more information.

Let us know how you are saving water in your workplace or if you are a retailer looking to innovate on water efficiency. Thursday 22 March is our Saving Water in the Workplace day. You can tweet @Waterwise using the hashtag #WaterSavingWeek.

We’re delighted to announce today that Business Stream has become the first Waterwise retailer, and is now a Waterwise Affiliate. For details on how to support Waterwise, please email info@waterwise.org.uk.

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