Saturday, April 05, 2008

Sustainability in the Water Sector

I read an interesting article about water sustainability; link is here. Terminology is also interesting: “Water Footprinting” and “Embedded Water” are phrases that are used; perhaps there is opportunity to brand this issue and break it out from other sustainability topics….

The author talks about impacts on water resources which are not adequately reflected in consumer products. Some examples:

- It takes 8000 liters of water to make pair of leather shoes,

- 2400 liters to make a hamburger, and

- 170 liters to make a pint of beer (Ok, so that one is not as compelling to some of you…)

In particular, the construction industry is identified as a market where there is a need for more enlightenment. This industry already incorporates the use of water saving products & devices; utilizes design & construction methodology to promote and achieve sustainability accreditation (i.e. LEED and BREAM); but is not on the vanguard of understanding the demands of water resources to manufacture supplies, equipment, and fixtures.

As ‘sustainability’ continue to develops in awareness, it would seem that specific areas (water, GHG, health & safety, toxics mgt, etc) will evolve and become well defined areas; thus driving more awareness, research, and development of tools that are specific to those problem sets. Again, lifecycle assessment may serve an important role in identifying and quantifying water resource impacts, so that decision makers and consumers have complete information upon which to make design and construction decisions.

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