A Progress Report on Reducing Water Use on Construction Sites (2008)

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This progress report has been developed to ascertain the progress of the construction industry in reducing the volume of water used on construction sites. The report identifies the activities that the water sub-group has initiated and completed over the last year and presents available data on current levels of water use on construction sites for comparison against the 2008 baseline of 148m3 water used per £million contractors output at constant (2005) prices, as published in the Water Action Plan.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This progress report has been developed to ascertain the progress of the construction industry inreducing the volume of water used on construction sites. The report identifies the activities thatthe water sub-group has initiated and completed over the last year and presents available data on current levels of water use on construction sites for comparison against the 2008 baseline of 148m3water used per £million contractors output at constant (2005) prices, as published in the Water Action Plan1.

The progress report is a contribution to delivering a water target within the joint government and industry Strategy for Sustainable Construction launched in July 2008. This report provides an assessment of progress towards the target of:

“By 2012, water usage in the manufacturing and construction phase to be reduced by 20% compared to 2008 usage”.

The progress report has been developed with contributions from members of the UK Contractors Group who routinely monitor water consumption on their construction sites. In addition Glenigans, who manage the industry KPIs have provided information relating to water use, and a further section details the preliminary outputs from water audit work the industry has been carrying out to better understand where water is used on sites.The progress report has been developed under direction from the Strategic Forum for Construction Water Subgroup.

The group is made up of key representatives from the construction and manufacturing industries who are in a position to take forward and lead work to reduce water consumption, as well asgovernment officials and representatives from the regulatory agencies such as the EnvironmentAgency. The Water Subgroup has been supported in its work by an expert secretariat provided by WRc Plc. Funding for the research support during 2010-2011 has been provided by WRAP.

The programme of work has resulted in:

  • An agreed methodology for measuring water usage
  • The declaration of a 2008 baseline using the agreed methodology
  • Publication of an Action Plan for reducing water use on construction sites
  • Development of a methodology for conducting water audits on construction sites.
  • Water audit activities being carried out by Mabbetts and Associates at a number of sites,with funding for the work provided by WRAP.

Introduction

  1. 1.1  This progress report details the activities that the Strategic Forum for Construction (SFfC) Water Subgroup has carried out during 2010-11.This progress report has been developed to ascertain the progress of the construction industry in reducing the volume of water used on construction sites.The progress report is a contribution to delivering a water target within the joint government and industry Strategy for Sustainable Construction2 launched in July 2008.
  2. 1.2  Within construction, the joint government and industry Strategy for Sustainable Construction published in 2008, highlighted the issue of water use by construction activities and included anumber of targets pertaining to the more efficient use of water. One such target identified water usage on construction sites as a priority area. The target, identified by the industry itself,is that:“By 2012, water use in the manufacturing and construction phase to be reduced by 20% compared to 2008 usage”An Action Plan to address this target, that identifies the necessary actions to achieve it, hasbeen developed by the SFfC Water Subgroup.The Action Plan was launched at an event held in June 2011.
  3. 1.3  The body responsible for delivering the water target is the Strategic Forum for Construction (SFfC) and this Action Plan has been developed by the SFfC Water Subgroup. The Subgroup comprises key representatives from the construction industry (through UK Contractors Group) and manufacturing who are in a position to take forward and lead work to meet thetarget, as well as Government officials and representatives from the regulatory agencies. TheWater Subgroup has been supported in its work by research from an expert secretariat provided by WRc Plc. Funding support for the Secretariat has been provided by the government’s Department of Business, Innovation and Skills from 2008-09, Defra (2009-10) and currently WRAP (2010-11).
  4. 1.4  Relatively little work has been carried out to date on water sustainability on construction sites. Water use is considered a relatively low priority in comparison to the focus on reducing waste and improving the carbon footprint. However, as water moves up the political and environmental agenda it is expected that this will change.
  5. 1.5  Current knowledge of where water is used on construction sites and the volumes involved islimited. The collection of additional data and identification of where water is wasted are the first steps identified in the Action Plan. To facilitate this process, the SFfC Water Subgrouphas developed a number of materials including data collection pro-forma and an audit methodology; further information on these can be found in the annexes to the Action Plan.
  6. 1.6  Until such time as better water audit data is available, the SFfC Water Subgroup has calculated baseline water consumption on construction sites for 2008 against which progress can be measured.