With future water shortages in the UK continuing to cause concern, Martin Walker of Methven discusses the various efficient water saving technologies which are available to futureproof new homes.
The UK’s shrinking water supply continues to be a major area for concern. According to predictions from the recent COP26 summit, there will be a 40% shortage of ‘freshwater resources’ by 2030.
In June 2021, George Eustice MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, issued a Ministerial statement regarding measures to be introduced to reduce the nation’s water consumption.
The three most pertinent measures for the industry were the introduction of a mandatory water efficiency label, encouraging local authorities to adopt the minimum building standard of 110 litres per person per day in all new builds where there is a ‘clear local need,’ such as in ‘water-stressed’ areas; and lastly, the development of a roadmap in 2022 towards greater water efficiency in new developments and retrofits.
As bathrooms account for the majority of daily water usage within residential developments, housebuilders must take a proactive approach to the water efficiency of these rooms when designing and building their properties, to not only futureproof their homes for potential occupiers, but also protect the UK’s diminishing water supply.
The Environmental Agency reported that 15 out of the 23 water companies operating throughout England are rated as being under ‘serious’ stress. Water UK has stated 46% of people believe their household uses 20 litres of water daily. In reality, it’s almost 142 litres per person.
As the Government’s target of building 300,000 new homes continues to be in force, the need for sustainable products and construction methods has become more and more crucial to the future of environmentally efficient housing.
To ensure the conservation of water, anyone building a new home within England must comply with Part G of Building Regulations 2010. These regulations require any new home to be built to use no more than 125 litres of water per person per day (pppd), although it is possible to build to as little as 80 litres.
In order to encourage housebuilders to adopt a proactive approach to minimising the water usage of their properties, water providers including Severn Trent and Southern Water are offering substantial incentives to developers that can meet the target of a property being built to 110 litres pppd or less.
Methven has worked with a number of developers to optimise their product specifications in order to reduce water consumption per person per day (as measured by the water calculator), increase end-user satisfaction through the right water-efficient product specification, and finally assist the developers in claiming a significant financial incentive.
From a manufacturer’s perspective, it is vital the products and services they provide fulfil not only the end-user experience and desired aesthetics, but also meet all applicable Building Regulations, whilst supporting housebuilders and developers in proactively meeting future regulatory changes.
BUILDING FOR THE NEXT GENERATION
Research has found that 82% of British homebuyers, particularly the younger generation, would pay more for ecofeatures within their home. This is at a time when housing alone generates almost a third of UK emissions, at 29%. Therefore, specifying water-efficient fixtures and fittings will not only help to protect the nation’s water availability, but also aid the reduction of homeowners’ future water bills.
Whilst the inclusion of environmentally efficient products within a property will attract first time buyers, the cost savings that they provide are a secondary incentive. The Energy Saving Trust states installing simple water-saving measures, such as water-efficient taps and showers, will save both water and energy by minimising heated water, which could reduce housetap hold bills by up to £120 annually.
Housebuilders can achieve water efficiency throughout the bathroom by selecting showering solutions that feature low flow rates. Products with twin jet technology create optimum water droplet size and pressure to deliver over 300,000 droplets per second so there is no compromise on the showering experience.
Coordinating tapware, showering solutions and accessories available on the market – aimed at housebuilders and developers – offer the choice of products that deliver the highest standards in water efficiency, without sacrificing performance or aesthetics.
Whilst there is still work to be done to integrate sustainable water management into the construction of new build properties, specifying water-saving products and establishing long-term approaches to water conservation are achievable and much-needed steps that can be taken to protect the UK’s strained water supply, and achieve a sustainable future for all.
Martin Walker is chief executive officer of Methven.