Twitter LinkedIn

Levelling up on water efficiency

Nathan Richardson, Head of Policy and Strategy at Waterwise, shares why building greater ambition on water saving into policy on planning and levelling up will help people, businesses and the environment.

This week, Blueprint for Water will be exploring levelling-up opportunities within the water environment - and how these could be secured through amendments to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill - in a series of blogs. Find these on our website here.

August 2022

As England grapples with drought, the importance of designing and embedding water efficiency into planning and levelling up policy for new and existing homes and communities is crystal clear. Unless we act, there simply isn't going to be enough water available for people, businesses and the environment. Plus with spiralling utility costs saving water is one way we can all reduce our water and energy bills.

Recognising the need for action, on 1st July 2021 the Government committed to developing a roadmap in 2022 for more water efficient buildings in England.

 “In 2022 develop a roadmap towards greater water efficiency in new developments and retrofits, including the exploration of revised building regulations and how the development of new technologies can contribute to meeting these standards. We will ensure that the underlying legislation can, where appropriate, accommodate any potential future expansion of rainwater harvesting, water re-use and storage options.”

The government has indicated that the roadmap for England will build on the Future Homes Delivery Plan published in December 2021 by the cross-sector Future Homes Task Force. The work of the task force is now being taken forward by the Future Homes Hub who are consulting through to 2nd September on possible measures that can be included in the roadmap.

So what do we need to see in the Roadmap? Blueprint for Water member, Waterwise, wants to see an immediate change to Building Regulations so that all new homes are built to at least 100 litres per person per day standard rather than the unambitious 125 or 110 standards currently in place. Looking further ahead they are calling for the following five commitments in the Roadmap.

Five things we need to see in the Roadmap

  1. From 2024 require all energy efficiency advisory and retrofit programmes to integrate water efficiency options (and vice versa), taking the whole house approach as recommended by the Construction Leadership Council in the National Retrofit Strategy.
  2. By 2025 move to a fittings based approach for new build and large scale retrofit with the use of water efficient products required. Efficiency expectations to increase in 2030 with the scheme to be adequately enforced. Water efficient products to be identified using the new mandatory water efficiency product label which supports delivery of all our five asks.
  3. By 2025 require the use of rainwater harvesting, water reuse and Sustainable Drainage technology for all new developments in water stressed areas with a similar requirement for developments over 100 homes in other areas. As a guide, such technology to provide at least 50 litres per domestic property per day. All new builds should be dual piped to facilitate water reuse.
  4. By 2025 launch a Water Performance Certificate (WPC) to sit alongside or as part of the existing Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). The WPC would draw on the labelling grades of installed products to give a property an overall rating. The WPC to be updated and shared when a building is built, sold or rented.
  5. By 2030 all new development in water stressed areas should be expected to be water neutral, drawing on approaches tested in a number of pilots and on experience in Sussex North.

The drought has brought into sharp focus the need for action to help ensure we are using water wisely. Building greater ambition on water saving into policy on planning and levelling up is one easy way that we can help people, businesses and the environment across England.

Nathan Richardson is Head of Policy and Strategy at Waterwise. 

Follow: @Waterwise

The opinions expressed in this blog are the authors' and not necessarily those of the wider Link membership.