Darren Washbrook of Mira Showers says water-efficient smart showers are key to helping customers pursue ethical consumerism, and explains the options
Water scarcity is an increasingly concerning issue. Once seen as a challenge primarily faced by other countries, water scarcity has now been recognised as a global issue that impacts every continent, including Europe. In every annual risk report since 2012, the World Economic Forum has included the water crisis as one of the five most pressing risks to the global economy. Approximately half of the global population lives in areas with severe water scarcity for at least one month of the year, with half a billion people facing year-long water scarcity. While the UK is not among the most severely impacted regions, it is not immune to the challenges posed by water scarcity.
Despite the UK’s reputation as an inclement country, our groundwater and surface water supply levels are dwindling year-on-year. The trend of hotter, drier summers in recent years results in Britain being seriously water stressed, meaning that our demand for clean, accessible water exceeds the supply. Without solutions, this problem will only worsen. In the foreword to the Government’s Plan for Water, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Thérèse Coffey and the Minister for Environmental Quality and Resilience, Rebecca Pow, state that the UK uses about 14 billion litres of water per day and will need four billion more by 2050. Therefore, change is needed now.
More than half of the freshwater abstracted in the UK is for household use. According to Water UK, the average British resident uses 153 litres of water a day through showers, toilets, dishwashers, washing machines and garden watering. As this figure accounts for just one resident, the figure for a household of four people is approximately 612 litres. Therefore, as we create new-build properties, it is essential that we create water efficient homes.
THE REGULATORY LANDSCAPE
Additionally, with the rising cost of energy and requirement to reduce carbon emissions, it will be highly practical for new houses to have efficient appliances to reduce consumption. The significance of this is emphasised by the government’s introduction of Parts F, L, O and S (nicknamed ‘FLOS’) to the Building Regulations in June 2022. These ground-breaking reforms are a stepping stone to the Future Homes Standard; anticipating that newly built homes will have 75-80% fewer carbon emissions than those built to current energy efficiency standards.
SAP ratings are highly useful for developers in marketing their properties, as it is essential for establishing an energy cost based on the construction of the home, its heating system, internal lighting and any renewable technologies installed. Assessors will not only look at big ticket items such as insulation and glazing, they will also assess space, heating, and water heating. It means appliances such as showers and new technologies, such as Waste Water Heat Recovery Systems (WWHRS), can have a significant impact.
Under Approved Document G of the Building Regulations, ‘reasonable provision must be made by the installation of fittings and fixed appliances that use water efficiently for the prevention of undue consumption of water’ in new-builds. Additionally, the potential consumption of wholesome water (i.e safe drinking water) by persons occupying a new dwelling must not exceed 125 litres per person per day.
WATER SAVING TECHNOLOGIES
To comply with the Building Regulations’ requirements for new-build properties and catalyse wider change in the construction industry, it is imperative that manufacturers produce eco-friendly products which implement water saving technologies.
Bathroom product manufacturers should incorporate Design for Environment processes into their product development to ensure innovation within the industry. Taking a pragmatic approach to water usage, showering products can be specifically designed for the new build sector, which save up to 292,000 litres over five years with average use. Additionally, sustainability should not mean compromising on the shower experience, as customer satisfaction remains central to the product design.
Furthermore, the introduction of cutting-edge digital showers offers consumers the capability to monitor water usage data via the shower dashboard. This also enables push notifications containing valuable hints and tips aimed at conserving water. Such innovation facilitates a greater awareness of water consumption and efficiency, ultimately prompting a more conscientious and prudent approach to water use.
These products should serve as inspiration for the wider market to continually innovate and consider sustainability when designing new products. To create a wide-reaching impact, sustainable product design should not only focus on the efficiency of the product in-use, it should also assess the product’s carbon footprint and the sustainability of its materials, as well as looking at ways of testing sustainably and minimising waste.
Such initiatives will will only create positive change within the construction industry, and help to establish a new benchmark for water conservation. They also benefit occupiers who will be able to save on utility bills, and pursue the ethical consumerism which is now an important concern for many buyers.
Darren Washbrook is national sales manager at Mira Showers