Where’s the carbon in water – and how it’ll help your Net Zero aims

By Barry McGovaney, Sustainability Lead and Innovation & Technology Manager for Water Plus, the UK’s largest water retailer

Net Hero Podcast

When it comes to Net Zero and reducing impacts on the environment, you may be thinking where’s the carbon in the water (H2O) that’s being used at your organisation?

There are carbon emissions linked to each cubic metre (every 1,000 litres) of water you use at your organisation – and there’s a way to calculate what it is.

In fact, there are more carbon emissions linked to every 1,000 litres of wastewater that leaves your site, than every 1,000 litres of water you’re getting through your pipes*.

As there is carbon associated with both – it shows why being wiser on water helps organisations deliver Net Zero and other targets under the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

How much carbon could I save?

According to the latest greenhouse gas reporting conversion factors*, there is 0.149 kilograms of CO2e in each 1,000 litres – which is measured as one cubic metre on bills and water meters.

When it comes to the wastewater at your site* – from the water that goes down the drains in kitchens or sinks, to flushes from the toilets and urinals – it’s 0.272 Kg of CO2e in each cubic metre, according to the conversion factor covering emissions from treating it.

This shows that by just boiling the water you need in work kitchen kettles – to reducing water waste from any leaks, including dripping taps, running toilets from cisterns – and elsewhere at your site – it soon adds up to lowering running costs and creating less carbon overall.

Being wiser on water

Water may be in Scope 3 on the emissions’ list – but it shouldn’t be looked at last.

Some simple steps can be taken straightaway to help reduce the impact your organisation is having on the environment – and save on running costs in the future.

Looking closer at what water you use each month is a good first move if you’re not already doing this. Noting a meter read each month, if it’s safe to access, allows you to track your use and spot water issues early – and data loggers on your meter can also help identify opportunities, with information fed into an online portal for updates throughout 24 hours of operating.

Cutting hot water use has a direct impact on energy costs too – and means less carbon being created too. Hot water can cost between 2 to 4 times more than cold water, once energy costs are considered, and water efficient taps, showerheads and other measures can all help there.

There are also big tax deductions currently available for organisations that invest in equipment including fittings in their buildings, so there’s never been a better time to consider low-cost water-saving tech – paying you to save more in the future.

With environmental reporting requirements for organisations** and interest in reducing impacts on natural resources increasing, it’s a good time to get ahead of the curve**.

Channel water’s full force to go Net Zero by getting in touch with experts

The Advanced Services team at Water Plus have provided bespoke approaches and recommendations for a huge range of organisations – including heat pumps and oysters for bio-filtration projects. They’ve helped hundreds of sites identify water savings and increased water data analysis through an online smart portal. Get in touch with them today here.

At Water Plus, we’re committed to making sustainability and minimising our environmental impact core to our business, our people and our customers. From helping sites install water reduction approaches and extra tracking, to highlighting how water efficiency helps organisations, increasing tree-planting in the UK and trialling innovative technology to cut water volumes, we’re taking action.

Information source for greenhouse gas emissions

* https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/greenhouse-gas-reporting-conversion-factors-2021 (See Water supply and Water treatment tabs in Conversion factors 2021: condensed set or Conversion factors 2021: full set).

See also – Methodology paper for 2021, Section 9.2, page 94 – https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/990675/2021-ghg-conversion-factors-methodology.pdf

** The Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) regulations, sets out information on reporting emissions for organisations with 250 or more employees, amongst other factors. This also includes Academy Trusts, with details for these included in an update published in May 2021. More details at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/academy-trust-financial-management-good-practice-guides/streamlined-energy-and-carbon-reporting

Further information on claiming capital allowances at: https://www.gov.uk/capital-allowances/what-you-can-claim-on#integral-features

More on the UN Sustainable Development Goals is here