Water efficiency in homes and buildings Print

Waterwise welcomes the significant progress made by government in recent years in driving water efficiency in new homes and buildings in England and Wales. It has brought water efficiency into Building Regulations in England and Wales for the first time ever (at a tight, whole-building standard of 125 litres per person per day), and instituted a Code for Sustainable Homes in England which is compulsory for all new homes receiving Government funding (at a level of 105 litres per person per day).

The Code is not currently compulsory for all new homes across the board, but it is already starting to transform the market towards water-efficient housing. Mandatory rating against the Code – which will require “zero star” certificates in some cases - is now in place, and will further accelerate this change. The regulations will be met through installing water efficient devices such as showers, taps and toilets, and will make a huge difference to the amount of water wasted.

However, the majority of the UK’s housing stock comprises homes that are over 10 years old. We are working closely with government to seek to ensure that water efficiency measures are included in innovative government plans to retrofit every home for energy efficiency: helping government to meet its 80% greenhouse gas emissions target since heating water in the home for cooking, bathing and cleaning accounts for 5% of total UK emissions. Climate change and population growth predictions mean that in coming years there will be less water and more people, so homes and buildings of the future will need to be wasting less water.

And to make sure that homes of the future are fit for purpose as climate change takes further hold, we would like the government to work with water companies and other partners to develop large-scale water efficiency retrofit schemes across the UK, including through establishing partnerships. As part of this, Waterwise believes that water neutrality should develop into a standard planning tool across the country, requiring water efficiency retrofitting measures in schools, hospitals and businesses in the same area as new developments, so total water demand does not increase.

The UK water companies are carrying out a large number of projects to retrofit existing homes with water saving devices – Waterwise analysed these and produced an Evidence Base for Large-scale Water Efficiency in homes.