Opinion

How the Gold Standard Water Benefit Standard Can Make Your Business’s Water Strategy More Sustainable

Water scarcity is an increasingly important topic of conversation on the global stage. With a growing number of high profile water shortages, and concerns that by 2050 over 4.8 billion people could be affected by water scarcity, more and more companies are treating water saving measures as a crucial business priority.

Brands such as Coca-Cola, Levi and L’Oreal have all made ambitious commitments to water sustainability, and others are following suit. As you might expect, improving efficiency and reducing usage are the main priorities of most corporate water strategies.

In this article we’ll introduce the Gold Standard Water Benefit Standard. This newly-launched scheme offers a new way for businesses to meet sustainability commitments, publicly demonstrate their contribution to water stewardship, and improve their reputation.

Who is Gold Standard?

Gold Standard is a certification body dedicated to defining standards for climate and development projects.

Their goal is to set and promote rigorous best practice standards, to ensure that projects aiming to positively impact the environment are easily measurable and rigorously monitored. In doing so, they ensure that funding and investment in these projects goes as far as possible.

What is the Gold Standard Water Benefit Standard?

Gold Standard’s Water Benefit Standard is a best practice framework for implementing sustainable water projects – for example, initiatives that either supply, conserve or purify water, increasing availability of clean water in areas that desperately need it.

By defining clear guidelines for measuring the impact of water sustainability projects, as well as by monitoring and checking their outcomes, Gold Standard can provide businesses who contribute funding for water sustainability projects with the confidence that their investment is having the desired impact.

The certification takes into account a wide range of different factors to measure the impact of water projects accurately. This includes measuring the “knock-on effect” of water projects on the surrounding area and environment, to ensure that any potential risks or negative impacts are identified and prevented.

Gold Standard’s Water Benefit Standard is currently being tested in pilot projects in Uganda and Ghana, and their goal is to implement 200 Water Benefit projects by 2020, benefitting over 3 million people worldwide.

What are Water Benefit Certificates?

For businesses who want to invest in water sustainability projects, Gold Standard offer Water Benefit Certificates. These work in a similar way to Carbon Credits, with each certificate representing a set volume of water that’s been supplied, conserved, or purified as part of a Water Benefit Standard certified project.

This means that companies can contribute in a measurable way to global projects which provide sustainable access to clean water. By purchasing Water Benefit Certificates, businesses can meet their commitments to sustainability or water stewardship goals, as well as offsetting their own water usage.

How Can the Water Benefit Standard Help My Business?

  • Offset your company’s environmental impact

 

Purchasing Water Benefit Certificates enables businesses to meet their water saving or sustainability targets, and also to offset the impact of their water usage by investing in projects elsewhere that reduce water scarcity. In doing so, businesses who invest in Water Benefit Certificates can demonstrate that they are having a measurable impact on global water projects, with benefits to their brand perception and reputation.

For businesses who wish to fund projects, Gold Standard provides a range of information on how to get involved on their website: https://www.goldstandard.org/get-involved/make-an-impact

  • Improve your company’s water stewardship

 

The Water Benefit Standard provides a valuable framework for businesses to improve their own internal water management. By defining best practice for water sustainability, the guidelines provide a useful benchmark for companies who wish to improve the sustainability of their own water usage.

In particular, the Water Benefit Standard provides a set of guidelines for measuring and understanding the impact of your business’s water usage. This focus on data and proven benefits is what sets Gold Standard’s certification apart from other, similar initiatives, and the same approach can deliver real impact to businesses. By implementing accurate measurement, and effectively identifying and managing risks, companies can control their own water usage and environmental impact, whilst also reducing costs.

Many businesses don’t have a holistic picture of their water usage. If this is true for you, the Water Benefit Standard sets a rigorous framework that’ll help you develop a clear understanding of how water can affect your operations, both now and in the future.

Understand the Impact of Your Business’s Water Usage

TWS offers a range of services and solutions for businesses to measure and reduce their water usage. Our Automated Meter Reading technology can help businesses achieve best practice standards of measurement defined in the Water Benefit Standard, and our expert consultancy and support can help your company develop a comprehensive strategy for understanding, reducing or offsetting your water usage.

To find out more about how we can help, read our case studies or contact us.

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Opinion

How to reduce water waste

Water efficiency is a growing priority for businesses across the globe. According to 896 business leaders surveyed at the Davos World Economic Forum, water is the number one risk factor posed to their business. Water is increasingly becoming a board-level concern, both to reduce risk exposure and to ensure a high level of corporate social responsibility and sustainability.

While water efficiency measures are often viewed at a granular level, a strong strategic approach to water management is necessary to drive ongoing improvements and cost savings for businesses. Water is essential to the function of most business operations, and water efficiency measures can achieve much higher levels of effectiveness when they are aligned with overall business objectives.

Moving from a perception of water as a utility to a more nuanced view of its function within your business can be a long-term process. Below we’ve set out the main priorities for a strategic approach to reducing water waste within your business.

Measure and understand

Virtually all businesses have a water meter, but relying on this to manage your water usage is like trying to run a business based only on its bank balance. A single top-level data point isn’t nearly enough, and developing a clearer picture of your business’s usage is essential to identify and prioritise potential improvements.

The best efficiency measures to reduce water waste depend on your company’s individual usage patterns. By taking the time to implement accurate measurement from the start, you can ensure not only that you make the best changes, but that these are having a measurable impact and delivering clear return on investment.

Sophisticated automated meter reading technologies can provide visibility of your business’s water usage in real time, and pinpoint the areas where water is being used the most, as well as potential areas of wastage.

Better measurement is also vital for prioritising and assessing the potential impact of different efficiency measures, to build a business case for improvements. It also allows instant validation of the results of any changes.

Integrate with vision and values

Water is a finite resource, and one on which we are all dependent. It is also likely to become scarcer in future as populations grow, demand increases and our climate changes.

While technology can go a long way towards minimising waste, the human element cannot be ignored, and winning and retaining support for efficiency measures will always play a vital role in their success. Most companies remind their employees to think before printing documents, and encourage them to save electricity by turning off appliances when they leave the office. Unfortunately, the same can’t always be said for water usage.

Acknowledging the important role water plays within your organisation, as well as its contribution to your company’s overall environmental impact, is critical. Communicating this correctly at board level will ensure that water efficiency is given the appropriate attention at all levels of the business.

Encouraging your team to be aware of their usage, and its impact both on the business and on the environment, will help ensure that the efficiency measures your company implements perform to their best effect. Aligning efficiency measures with your company’s vision, values and sustainability strategy can elevate what might have previously been viewed as a low-level cost-saving exercise to something greater, driving increased engagement and vastly improved results.

Invest in a long-term water strategy

The most effective approach to managing your water will depend on your business objectives. While the simplest water efficiency measures can have a measurable short-term impact on your water efficiency, a longer term strategic approach is needed to make ongoing improvements.

This involves developing an in-depth understanding of the role water plays in your operations. From this, it’s possible to identify and implement a range of more personalised efficiency measures , ranging from quick fixes through to long term projects, to deliver sustainable results.

Often the highest-impact improvements require significant investment in infrastructure, processes or technology. A strong water management strategy is key to ensure the right level of internal support and a viable business plan for executing the required changes.

By understanding how water affects your business – the impact on its profit margins, the level of risk it presents, and the opportunity for improving matters – your business will be better place to prioritise, plan and execute a long term water management strategy that will deliver the results you need.

Develop your business’s water management strategy

Total Water Solutions work in close partnership with businesses to help them design, plan and implement long-term water efficiency strategies which measurably impact their business objectives.

To find out more about how we can support your business to take a bespoke, strategic approach to water usage, read our case studies or contact us to find out more.

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Opinion

Managing the risks associated with your water system

It's all too easy to take a constant supply of clean, safe water for granted. For businesses in particular, it can be easy to underestimate how important water is. Many people forget that their businesses wouldn’t be able to run without a consistent, reliable water supply, whether it's required as an ingredient in a manufacturing process, or for ensuring the well-being of employees or customers.

A disruption to your water supply can pose serious risks to your business, so being aware of the potential pitfalls, and taking steps to manage them, is vital to avoid potential loss of revenue. In this article, we’ll discuss the main risk areas businesses should be aware of, as well as simple ways to reduce the chances of problems occurring.

Leaks and burst pipes

What’s the risk to your business?

Leaking water pipes are a liability for your business. Even a small, 5-litre-per-minute leak can add five thousand pounds per year to your water bill, increasing costs. It’s not always obvious if a leak is eating into your profit margins, either. Only 5% of leaks become visible above the surface, and if this does happen it’s not always at the location of the leak. This means that leaks can go undetected for some time, wasting tens of thousands of pounds in the process.

For businesses who rely on water, though, a burst pipe can have even further reaching effects. Many businesses rely on a constant water supply to keep their operations running. Manufacturing, healthcare and hospitality business in particular could have no option but to close their doors if their water supply were disrupted, leading to lost revenue on top of increased costs from leaking water.

How to manage it

With many buildings relying on aging and unreliable infrastructure to stay in business, monitoring and maintaining your water network is vital to prevent avoidable disruptions to your business. Leaks aren’t always easy to spot, and the majority never become visible above ground.

One key way to identify potential leaks is accurate measurement. Real-time usage monitoring systems like our Automated Meter Reading technology can flag when and where usage is increasing, identifying potential leaks.

If you suspect a leak already exists in your water system, our leak detection experts can identify the leak and propose next steps. Depending on your circumstances, our Find and Fix Solution can identify and fix leaks immediately, or can schedule repair work for a time that will minimise disruption to your business.

While there are many different methods of finding and fixing leaks when they happen, prevention is always the best approach. Pre-emptive monitoring and maintenance of your pipes can identify and fix potential problems before they occur. Maintaining older networks to keep them in good condition is the best way to avoid footing the bill for wasted water, as well as potential loss of earnings if your supply is interrupted.

Legionella and water hygiene

What’s the risk to your business?

Legionnaire’s disease is a form of pneumonia, caused by the inhalation of water droplets containing high levels of legionella bacteria. Legionella bacteria are present in low numbers in many natural water systems, but their numbers can increase to dangerous levels where the conditions are right for bacterial growth. Showers, swimming pools and cooling towers are all common areas where the risk of legionella is increased.

All businesses have a legal responsibility to ensure that the water they provide to their employees, tenants or customers is safe and hygienic. Legionella is potentially deadly, and outbreaks are widely reported in the media. If proper preventative measures aren’t taken, businesses can find themselves responsible for causing sickness or even death, with the serious legal and reputational consequences that follow.

How to manage it

All businesses, landlords and other people who control premises have a responsibility to assess the potential risk from legionella, and take appropriate steps to manage it. This starts with a thorough risk assessment to identify any areas in your water system where legionella could multiply.

The risk assessment will lead to schedule of remedial work, to fix any issues within your water systems that might increase the risk unnecessarily. This will be followed by an ongoing management process to ensure that any remaining risk areas are controlled.

Fortunately, simple preventative processes can prevent a legionella outbreak, and once a risk assessment has been conducted, ongoing management of legionella risk is relatively straightforward as long as the correct processes are in place and the right records are kept.

It can be challenging for businesses to stay up to date with changes to legislation and get the right processes in place, particularly when there are so many other priorities to focus on. For this reason, it’s vital to make sure that your business has the support it needs to stay compliant.

Sustainability and water scarcity

What’s the risk to your business?

A plentiful supply of clean, clear water is something most of us take for granted. However, this is likely to change for many in the coming years.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) predicts that global water demand will increase 55% by 2050, with the bulk of the increase coming from industry. This level of increased demand is likely to be unsustainable, and combined with increasingly unpredictable weather patterns could mean that even in the UK, water scarcity is a growing risk.

Globally, water scarcity is a high priority for an increasing number of businesses, and many are taking steps to prepare for the future and reduce their exposure.

How to manage it

The best way for your business to reduce risk from water scarcity is to reduce usage, and this is a high priority focus for some of the world’s biggest brands. Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have both reduced their water usage by around a quarter since 2006.

Even simple efficiency measures can lead to big savings, helping to save money in the short term whilst lowering your business’s exposure to potential future shortages. Beyond the basics of avoiding waste by monitoring your usage and fixing leaks, there are a huge variety of different measures your company could take to reduce their water usage. The best approach will be highly personalised to your business, its requirements and usage patterns.

Water risk management should also feature in your business’s supply chain strategy to ensure that you are adequately prepared. What will you do if costs increase, or if there are shortages? While this might seem like a remote possibility, the potential disruption to your business could be significant, so putting plans in place ahead of time is vital.

Develop Your Business’s Water Risk Management Strategy

If you’re working to manage risks associated with your business’s water infrastructure, our expert consultants can help. We work in partnership with your business to understand its water needs in-depth, and identify potential risks and opportunities.

From there, our team will work with your business to develop and implement a comprehensive water management strategy, giving you confidence that your business is well-prepared for the future, contact us to find out more.

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Opinion

Your water network: what you need to know

Many businesses take water for granted, but even in the UK's rainy climate it requires work to maintain a consistent water supply to your premises. As a business, you’ll likely have responsibility for maintaining your own water infrastructure, so it’s vital that this is managed efficiently to keep your business operations streamlined and ensure you’re in compliance with any relevant legislation.

Unfortunately, many businesses don’t know very much about their own water infrastructure, and often don’t take the time to understand it until it’s too late. Here are some of the questions you should be asking to ensure that your water network is in good shape, and see off any potential issues before they arise.

Do you know where your pipes are?

If your water infrastructure is more than thirty years old, it’s likely that there are no records of where your water pipes actually run on your premises. Add in potential additions, expansions and re-structuring over time, and many businesses have only a vague idea of their water network’s layout

This could pose a huge range of problems for your business. If you don’t know how your infrastructure is laid out, you’re likely to spend more time than you need to tracking down leaks or conducting maintenance. You could also run into more serious problems if you undertake construction work, and accidentally damage a pipe.

Mapping your water network using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) can increase the efficiency with which any future maintenance work can be carried out. With an accurately mapped networ it’s easier to pinpoint exactly what work needs done, and to identify the tools, processes and people needed to complete the work.

The process of network mapping can also identify voids, underground structures, or other features of your underground network that you didn’t previously know about. These can help to flag problems such as leaks, as well as identify potential performance improvements.

Could your water infrastructure be putting compliance at risk?

Unmapped water systems can waste time and reduce efficiency, but they could also pose more serious risks to your business.

Orphan “deadleg” pipes, for example from disconnected appliances, can provide a perfect breeding ground for bacteria such as legionella, putting your employees’, tenants’ or customers’ health at risk. Other factors, such as hot and cold pipes running too close together, can also cause problems, and in serious cases could lead to a potentially fatal outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease.

Businesses have a legal responsibility to identify and control legionella risks, with serious consequences if an outbreak occurs. Understanding your business’s water infrastructure is vital to spot any areas where remedial work is required to maintain compliance with water hygiene legislation, and to put in place the right processes to control future risk.

Are you sitting on a ticking time bomb?

Aging water pipes need regular monitoring and maintenance to ensure that they remain in good condition. Older pipes are prone to deterioration, leading to leaks, which can cause a host of problems for your business and its operations.

Even a small, five-litre-per-minute leak could add £5000 per year to your business’s water bill. Most leaks aren’t visible above ground, so your business could well be wasting money through a leak and not know about it.

More concerning is the possibility of disruption to your business if a pipe suddenly fails. Most businesses require water to function day-to-day, so disruptions to your supply from a burst pipe or unscheduled repair work can result in lost revenue. A loss of supply could even put vulnerable individuals at risk, for example if you’re a landlord or healthcare organisation.

Monitoring the condition of your pipes, through regular maintenance and careful measurement of your water usage, can help you to identify where even small leaks could be reducing your business’s efficiency, as well as where your organisation might be at risk of a more serious problem.

Staying on top of your water usage

Water management is often something that businesses approach reactively, but this can cause increased costs and disruption over the long term. Instead, it’s important to be proactive about understanding and managing your water infrastructure.

Total Water Solutions can help you get to grips with your business’s water usage, understanding your usage patterns, ensuring that maintenance and efficiency measures are carried out at the right times, and helping your business to stay fully compliant with regulations. By working in partnership with your company, we can help you streamline your water management by implementing straightforward processes that’ll save you time and money.

To find out more about how we can help, read our case studies or contact us

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Opinion

Water compliance considerations for businesses

Businesses face a wide range of legislative requirements to ensure that their water supplies are safe and hygienic. Ensuring high levels of water hygiene is vitally important. The well-being of your employees, customers or tenants depends on it. Businesses who fail to stay compliant can face prosecution, suffer negative PR, or worse, be responsible for causing potentially fatal illness.

In this article we’ll cover two major areas of water legislation – the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999, and the legislation covering legionella control – and introduce the main responsibilities your business has for maintaining compliance.

These are an introduction to the main areas of responsibility businesses have, but are not exhaustive. Your business’s regulatory responsibilities will vary depending on a range of factors, so it’s important to get expert advice on what’s required to maintain compliance.

Legionella Risk Management

Legionella is a bacteria which occurs at low levels in natural water supplies, but which can multiply to dangerous levels within water systems. It’s the cause of Legionnaire’s disease, a potentially fatal form of pneumonia.

All businesses have a responsibility to assess and manage legionella risk under the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulation (1994). Requirements are set out in the Health and Safety Executive’s Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) L8, and businesses who fail to comply with these regulations could face prosecution.

The main areas of responsibility for your business are as follows:

  • Risk Assessments
    All employers, building owners and landlords are required to carry out a legionella risk assessment to BS 8580 standard. This is a thorough review of your water system designed to identify areas which could pose a legionella risk.
  • Remedial Risk Management
    Where issues are identified in the legionella risk assessment, your business will need to carry out remedial work to control the risk. This could include changes to your water systems like removing “deadleg” pipes, replacing tanks or sanitising your systems.
  • Monitoring and Record Keeping
    Your business will also be required to monitor and maintain its water systems to control legionella risk. This could involve regularly cleaning and disinfecting parts of your water system like shower heads, monitoring the temperature of water from taps, and regularly testing water samples for bacteria.

Once a risk assessment has been completed, ongoing legionella risk management can be very straightforward as long as the right training, processes and measurement methods are put in place from the start. Often, simple measures are all that’s necessary to ensure your water supply is safe and hygienic.

Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999

The Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999 are in place to ensure that any new plumbing systems supplied from public mains are safe, efficient and high quality, reducing the risk of waste, contamination or other problems. While they’re mostly applicable to businesses who are installing new water systems or making modifications to existing systems, there are also some points that all businesses should be aware of.

The legislation covers several major areas:

  • Installing new water fitting
    If you are installing new water fittings on your business premises, you are responsible for adhering to a number of regulatory requirements. These include notifying your water company of your proposed work ahead of time, and ensuring that work is completed to appropriate quality standards.
  • Pressure Testing of New Supplies
    If you’re installing a new water system, you’ll be required to pressure test it before connecting it to the public water mains. During the test, water is pumped into your system at a set pressure, then monitored for 30 minutes for any drops in pressure. This ensures that there are no leaks or weaknesses that could cause water to escape.
  • Chlorination
    During the chlorination process, a disinfectant solution is circulated around your water network, killing bacteria and ensuring that your new water mains are safe. Your water supply will also undergo bacteriological testing to certify that your system is sanitised to the requirements set out in BS 8558. This required before any new water infrastructure is connected to the mains. It can also be necessary if you’ve made significant changes to your water systems, or regularly as a maintenance method for tanks.

The Water Supply regulations help to ensure that your water systems are installed and maintained to the highest standard. They also help to protect the public water mains, by preventing “backflow” from contaminated systems, and by reducing the risk of leaks. By adhering to the right standards when you make changes to your water system, you can also ensure that your systems run as efficiently as possible, saving your business money.

Stay on top of your compliance responsibilities

While water regulation can be quite complex in places, maintaining compliance doesn’t have to be difficult. With the right advice and a strong strategy, your business could have the confidence that it’s fully compliant with all applicable legislation with a minimum of effort.

Total Water Solutions can provide expert support to identify your business’s areas of responsibility, and help you create efficient, straightforward processes for staying compliant, contact us to find out more.

 

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Opinion

Understanding water budgets

Water rates tend to be seen as a fixed cost. Because water isn’t imported like gas and electricity, there are fewer price fluctuations. Water doesn’t make the news in the same way as electricity costs do, soaring when oil prices rise. With so many other things to worry about, it can be easy to ignore your water bill.

There’s no reason to be complacent, though. Your bills might be steady, but there could still be room to save, or potential for them to increase significantly in future if something changes.

If you’re using water as part of your business’s operations, it’s vital to understand how you’re being billed, and what you’re paying for. It’s not just the local car wash who benefit from understanding their water usage, either. Even if your business only uses water to provide washing and drinks facilities for your employees, it’s worth understanding how your billing works to make sure it’s accurate, and that your costs are reasonable for your level of usage.

What does my business’s water bill cover?

Your business’s water bill actually covers a number of different services and charges. The main ones include:

Water

Perhaps obviously, the main item on your water bill is a charge for the amount of mains water your business uses. The vast majority of business premises have a water meter, so you’ll be billed based on regular meter readings, or estimations if your water provider is unable to access your meter.

Your water tariff will include a standing charge, plus a rate for the volume of water which passes through your water meter. Your tariff might vary depending on your usage. For example, if your business uses a very large amount of water (for example, a manufacturing plant using water in the production process), you might be offered a preferential rate.

Waste water

A charge for collecting and treating “foul sewerage”. This is the waste water that enters the network via drains from your premises, for example from toilets or sinks.

For most businesses, waste water charges are linked to water usage, but again, they can vary for larger businesses. Sewerage charges also don’t cover waste water containing high levels of certain dangerous contaminants, like oil, chemicals or detergents. These are charged for separately, as “trade effluent”.

Sewerage and drainage

A charge for collecting and treating the rainwater which drains off your property back into the water network. This also includes a fixed contribution for maintaining drainage on public roads.

Sewerage and drainage charges are calculated based on the volume of water which drains from your premises into the sewer system. Most businesses are charged based on standard assumptions. However, businesses can apply to calculate this differently, for example if they collect rainwater landing on their property and this doesn’t get returned to the sewer.

Trade effluent

If your business needs to put harmful waste into the water system which requires special treatment, for example oils, food waste, heavy metals, or other chemicals, you’ll pay a separate charge for trade effluent. Businesses which discharge trade effluent must apply to their water provider, and agree a limit for the level of harmful materials they will permit them to return to the network.

The costs for trade effluent vary depending on the type of contaminant, its strength or concentration, and the quantity which is discharged into the water network. To keep things consistent, water companies calculate this using a standard method called the Mogden Formula. For businesses discharging high levels of trade effluent, this is sometimes measured using a dedicated meter on the waste pipe for more accurate billing.

Take Control of Your Water Usage

Total Water Solutions work in partnership with you to understand your business’s water costs in detail.

Our water audits can help you understand your business’s water usage, benchmarked against similar companies, and identify areas of potential improvement to help you improve efficiency and save money. Find out more…

Resources – learn more

To learn more about how your water bill works and what charges apply to your business, check the following resources:

OFWAT
OFWAT is the official regulator for the water sector in England and Wales. Their website has a dedicated section for businesses, with information and advice.

The Consumer Council for Water
The Consumer Council for Water is an independent public organisation representing water customers in England and Wales. They provide advice and support to consumers and businesses on their water and sewerage bills.

Waterwise
Waterwise is a not-for-profit organisation which promotes water efficiency, and conducts research and campaigns to encourage greater efficiency in water usage.

 

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