New water benchmarking scheme targets ‘forgotten utility’

Britain's first national water benchmarking scheme has been launched, allowing businesses to reduce water usage by an average of 30% and regain up to £500m in lost annual revenue.

Aquamark, managed by Buckinghamshire-based water and energy efficiency consultancy ADSM, is a multi-million-pound, three-year project which aims to develop 500 different building benchmark classifications for water usage across the country. 

Using a combination of big data sources and water billing data provided by participants, ADSM will identify areas where water efficiency improvements could be made and provide consumption targets for each individual property. Once the research project is completed, each sector will be provided with free benchmarks to assist them to manage water more effectively.

Opportunity knocks

ADSM founder and director Patrick McCart said: “There exists a real opportunity for UK organisations, both large and small, to participate in this ground-breaking research project. Britain is set to become the global advisor on sustainable water supplies for commercial users. The recent events experienced in California and São Paulo have highlighted how essential it is that businesses and organisations are supported with all the necessary tools to combat water scarcity.”

For businesses taking part in the Aquamark project, ADSM will securely make use of their water bills to analyse consumption data and identify how, where and why water is being used. ADSM will then use publically available online data – such as the Ofsted website for schools and TripAdvisor for hotels – to build a better picture of each individual building’s water use.

This benchmarking initiative is essentially an updated and enhanced version of the Watermark benchmarking scheme, which ADSM set up on behalf of the Government in 2002. That scheme created typical usage and best practice benchmarks for the public sector, which eventually formed the basis of water efficiency targets. 

Water security

Speaking at the launch of Aquamark last week, ADSM’s head of corporate communications Sian McCart explained the need to update and expand the benchmarking initiative. “Buildings are changing and new water efficiency measures are being introduced,” said McCart. “The majority of organisations know what they are using but not how they are actually performing in terms of water efficiency and therefore how much they could save.

“There’s a need for a wide-ranging, more detailed and robust benchmark for non-domestic properties to help us drive down water use in the UK. This is exactly what we’re aiming to address with AquaMark. We will put Britain at the forefront of commercial water benchmarking, leading to much greater sustainability of water supplies and increased water security for thousands of organisations.”

To kick-start Aquamark, ADSM has obtained private equity funding to provide a range of free services for the duration of the three-year scheme. These include bill validation services, monthly consumption reports and access to all of the benchmarks at the end of the project.

The Aquamark launch took place at ADSM’s media offices in Pinewood Studios last week. The project has already received strong backing from the water industry, regulators OFWAT, The Environment Agency, and leading research experts BRE, BSRIA and the University of Oxford.

Luke Nicholls

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