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Water Audits And Benchmarking: The Essential First Steps To Efficiency

Feb 2016

With the deregulation of the English water market fast approaching, well-informed businesses are likely to be giving renewed attention to their water efficiency measures. Doing so will not only help them to fulfil CSR obligations and make cost savings right away, it will also enable them to secure favourable contracts, with new or existing water providers, when the market opens in April 2017.

A water audit is the ideal first step in a journey towards better management of water spend, allowing businesses to identify potential issues affecting their water supply, and focusing attention on where it will have the most impact on excess consumption, and ultimately on cost.

So, if your business is interested in boosting water efficiency, what can you expect from a water audit – and how will it help you begin to make savings and be more “green”?

Water Hub spoke to Chris Tarr, Water Projects Manager at Inenco, to discover more about the approach Inenco’s experts take to conducting their free water audit, and what the next steps after audit would be. Here’s his summary of the audit, benchmarking and implementation process.

Step 1: How the current figures stack-up

A desktop analysis of your past water bills is the first step, and will look at the breakdown of your water spend, identifying any possible errors which may have resulted in unnecessary costs for your business. For example, your water supplier may be billing based on your site area. If this is the case they will not have carried out a formal site visit, and it is entirely possible that they have miscalculated the site area and are overcharging you.

As a further part of this analysis, usage at your sites will be benchmarked against a carefully compiled “league table” of comparable businesses, as well as against other sites within your own businesses if appropriate. The benchmarking system allows for information on differentiators to be taken into account (e.g. footfall at cinemas/leisure sites), and highlights sites that are performing less well when it comes to water efficiency, and the possible reasons for this.

Once this desktop process of bill verification, benchmarking, and identification of good and bad water usage has been undertaken, you will be provided with a report detailing water efficiency within your business. This report will pinpoint any issues affecting your water efficiency, and will also help you begin to understand the quick-wins and more complex processes that can be implemented to help you save water, and save money.

Step 2: Full on-site survey

If no issues are identified by the desktop analysis, you can rest assured that your business is water-efficient and ready to go to tender in the deregulated market next year. If, however, the analysis uncovers possible billing or consumption issues, the next step towards better water efficiency will be a site survey. At this point a specialist engineer will visit your site to conduct a full review of your domestic water usage (e.g. sinks, showers, kitchens and toilets), as well as any process use.

An initial leak and supply line check will also be performed during this visit, which will typically take around one hour for a retail unit with limited water use, but may take a full day for larger manufacturing sites.

Step 3: Taking Action

Once the desktop audit and site survey are complete, you will be provided with a comprehensive report detailing water usage across your business and the ways in which you can reduce use, limit wastage, and cut costs. At this point it will fall to you to decide which of the water efficiency measures identified can be implemented, depending on your strategy and budget. Advice is available to help you make these decisions, should you need it. When it comes to implementation, it may also help to enlist an expert to source quotes, project manage changes and monitor effects. As with any energy efficiency project, you’ll want to be sure that you are receiving a solid return on your investment, and that your business is making real moves towards efficiency and sustainability for the longer term.

Need help? For more information and advice on the Inenco’s free water audit and other services, get in touch today.