The Sustainable Facilities Management Index (SFMI) has partnered with Methven UK, a leading designer and manufacturer of specialist equipment to monitor, measure and manage water consumption, to raise the awareness of water management and identify the value that FM can bring to this increasing risk.
Throughout the past eight years of SFMI assessments, water management has consistently seen low scores across all the FM companies audited, even from leading partners. From the last five years the average yearly score has remained stagnant at below 20 per cent and falling even while other typically low scoring topics such as biodiversity are on the increase.
According to the SFMI “water management is a challenge that can often be side-lined in pursuit of other agendas”. Adding “providers will tend to offer water reporting and solutions as an add-on to the energy management giving it a ‘poorer cousin’ reputation”.
Generally, water management services will consist of basic water consumption identification and reporting for excessive users. Annual feedback shows there is a lack of investment in water management as a service because of the lack of client drivers, especially from those typically in office site operations. This is not helped by the UK having a complicated policy and regulatory landscape when it comes to management of water resources, and an often-difficult metering infrastructure making data collection difficult. Currently there are no water management regulations concerning water efficiency, instead the focus has been on pushing the message of water saving. However, with the lack of interest from clients, the UK mentality is not shifting, as shown in the historic look at SFMI scores.
Water in the UK
With water risks rising in the UK, the issue of water wastage and increasing water efficiency needs to be managed across every sector says the SFMI.
The UK is facing a national water crisis with a recent study finding that England’s rivers, lakes and streams have some of the lowest water quality water in Europe. The report also warns that the climate crisis is worsening the conditions of England’s ‘already beleaguered waters’. It’s not only the quality of the water that is an impending issue. There are concerns that the UK will experience severe water shortages and water-stressed regions in the next 20 years due to climate change and population growth. Hotter summers and drier winters due to changing weather patterns means water has the potential to become vulnerable to scarcity.
The weather links with climate change while complicated are also manifesting in conditions that see a sharp increase in rain deluge over a short period of time now becoming a regular occurrence. The places that are affected the most are urbanised areas as they are not built to capture huge amounts of water that can appear rapidly, which then increases the risk of flooding and property damage.
Water efficiency is an important issue that should not be dealt with when it reaches crisis level, it needs to be brought to the forefront of business strategy, warns the SFMI. A recent YouGov poll found that fewer than half (46 per cent) of large firms track their water usage, compared to 33 per cent of SMEs. Businesses are at risk of interruptions due to water issues on site with few businesses with emergency plans in place for leakages. By reducing water usage in commercial settings, it can not only help save money but also ensure businesses prepare for future legislation. It will help to reduce a business’s carbon footprint, achieve its zero carbon plan and improve a company’s environmental performance, including enhanced performance ratings to investors and customers.
The water crisis is slowly bubbling under the surface, in parallel with climate change and population pressures, and will not solve itself, so it is time for actionable change to provide much needed results says the SFMI. In partnership with Methven UK the SFMI will raise the profile of water management to become a core topic for the FM sector and will be used to understand the problems and shift the conversation.
The SFMI will be running a Bitesize education webinar and a Leaders Forum on water management with its partners and signatories, to assist in driving businesses to improve on their scores and to engage with clients on the subject.
As workplaces open up and restrictions lift the role of the FM has become more important than ever.
The challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic are now providing a valuable opportunity for FMs to demonstrate their skills and adaptability. Whilst on a practical level FMs are responsible for making buildings safe and comfortable, they are also crucial in attracting people back to the office.
In speaking with industry leaders, it is clear that there are six key areas of focus. Zip has published a white paper which looks at each one, suggesting ways that facilities managers can tackle the complexities and pace of a return to the workplace, whilst demonstrating clear and effective leadership along the way.
To find out more download the white paper here.