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5 Steps To Start Measuring And Reporting On Water

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. And what you don’t measure, you can’t improve.  

In an age where consumers and buyers are increasingly making purchasing decisions based on the positive environmental and social impact of businesses and brands, your sustainability strategy is becoming more and more critical. 

And with water management being cited as one of the greatest risks to business continuity and growth, organisations (or ‘those’) who take concerted, proactive action on their water will realise not only short-term financial benefits, but also increased operational resilience and long-term success.

A measured path to success

As famous management theorist, Peter Drucker, said “you can’t manage what you don’t measure”, and what you don’t measure you can’t improve.

CDP outlines a number of key, tangible benefits to measuring and reporting on water, and also your wider environmental impact: 

  • Protect and improve your reputation – build trust through transparency and respond to increasing water concerns 
  • Boost your competitive advantage – gain a competitive edge when it comes to performance, drive efficiencies and free up cashflow 
  • Get ahead of regulation – prepare your business for likely mandatory reporting and disclosure 
  • Uncover risks and opportunities – identify emerging water risks and opportunities that would otherwise be overlooked 
  • Track and benchmark progress – benchmark your environmental performance and develop a data-driven strategy for improvement 

How do you start measuring and reporting on water?

Our Water Strategy Manager and inhouse CDP expert, Anastasia Sousanoglou, provides five simple steps to help you start measuring and reporting on your water. 

How to start measuring and reporting on your water consumption

  1. Map your water-use points and water sources

The first step is to build a holistic view of your site portfolio and water use. Take the time for either you, or a colleague based at your site/s (your site Facilities Manager could help with this) to walk around and note the points where water enters your building, where it’s coming from (mains pipes, boreholes, rainwater harvesting, other sources) and where water is being used throughout your business. Note down where you have flow meters and submeters, and which parts of the building each meter/submeter serves. 

  1. Collate existing data

It’s important to know where you are now, so that you can plan where you want to get to and how you’re going to get there. You can use your own meter readings or the readings that appear on your water bills for this. This will help you understand how much water is being used by each site on an annual basis. Repeat this process for wastewater too. 

  1. Consider installing logging devices

Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) devices and smart meters are a great way to obtain regular, accurate data without the need to physically read each meter. Installed across your site portfolio, this will enable you to easily monitor and track your water usage, seeing exactly how much you use. Combined with intelligent data aggregation and analysis software, you have access to live consumption data by site, region or group, in a single, visually compelling dashboard. 

Installing AMR can be particularly useful in areas of high usage, or where usage fluctuates greatly throughout the day, week or year. They can also be used to identify consumption patterns and highlight any abnormal usage, which could be a sign of a leak. 

  1. Set a baseline and choose your targets

Next, choose the baseline from which you’re going to measure progress against any targets. You could use the most recent year in which you have a good set of data. 

Then, set your improvement targets. If you’re only just starting out, choose a smaller amount of concise, clear targets. For example, a total water reduction target or a water reduction target relative to your output. 

A retail business might choose to report water relative to footfall, a manufacturer relative to product output, a restaurant relative to meals served, a hotel relative to guests etc. Pick a relevant metric for your business.  

  1. Decide how you’re going to report

Are you going to join a disclosure scheme like CDP? Or just report internally? The benefits of joining a disclosure scheme are that you get a robust, structured set of questions, providing direction for your reporting. And, following submission of your disclosure, you receive an independent score. Your score can be used to measure and track year-on-year performance, benchmark yourself against your peers and prove to investors and customers the positive action you’re taking to protect our environment and your operational success. 

It might seem daunting at first, but support is available. By reporting and disclosing on your water through CDP, your business will be seen as a leader in water stewardship. The public visibility will in turn help influence your internal teams to make continual progress towards meeting your targets and improve your yearly score. 

To find out more about how to get started reporting on water, and whether disclosing through CDP is right for your business, contact our CDP & Water Strategy Manager, Anastasia Sousanoglou, here.