Reducing drinking-water consumption by business

There has been an increasing emphasis in recent years on water savings and water awareness among domestic clients. A similar research focus is needed for business and that is the aim of this reconnaissance study. The project is designed to establish a clearer picture – from a range of perspectives and disciplines – of the options, underlying considerations and the impact of drinking-water savings by major business clients.

Drinking-water savings by business clients

The succession of dry summers in recent years has led to a significant increase in research into the awareness of domestic clients with respect to water use and ways to save water. In the case of business clients, this has been much less the case despite the fact that these are very relevant matters. For example, business clients can have a major impact on local water demand, and the capacity limits of more and more water companies are coming increasingly close. There is also more and more discussion in society as a whole about the role that should be played by new, and existing, major clients of water companies. And the recently published Dutch Drinking Water Policy Memorandum gives water savings – including those made by business – a prominent place on the agenda.

Five perspectives

Our aim with this exploratory, multidisciplinary study is to establish a clearer picture of the options, underlying considerations and the impact of drinking-water savings by major consumers in the business sector. Five perspectives are central here: those of the context, the client, the process/technical possibilities, the integral asset and the sector.

Context perspective
A review of the extent to which different sectors contribute to water use, including an overview for the largest business users.

Client perspective
An exploration of water awareness among major business users themselves. Here, we take three different dimensions into account: cognition (i.e., what do they think can be done?), attitude (i.e., to what extent and for what reasons do they want to make savings?), and behaviour (i.e., what is already being done and what is in progress?).

Process/technical perspective
An exploration of current and future technical options for reducing drinking-water use by major consumers.

Integral asset perspective
A review of the significance of measures implemented by both major business consumers themselves and the drinking-water companies for the asset management of water companies.

Sector perspective
A review of the policies of a range of institutions relating to major consumers, the legal frameworks, and what they do to reduce their water consumption.

Understanding the business client

Even though major clients have a relatively limited impact on total drinking-water consumption in our country, this does not mean that they cannot play a role in the overall challenge we are facing for the water transition. By learning more about the possibilities, underlying considerations and possible impact of reducing drinking-water consumption by this group of clients, we can respond more effectively to future challenges relating to saving water. With the results of this reconnaissance study, it will be possible to design a set of action perspectives that can be used to put drinking-water savings on the agendas of a range of major business clients in a more targeted way.