Thursday, 1 November 2012

Sustain wins a UK government grant to develop a water footprint database

imageSustain, the resource efficiency and sustainability consultancy, has won a grant to develop the UK’s first water footprint database.

The funding comes from the UK government’s Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and is for the development of a water footprint database for materials which will allow manufacturing organisations to measure and manage the water footprints of their global supply chains.

As water security becomes a rapidly emerging concern, large corporations and Government bodies are starting to take notice of the strategic importance of water management. In 2011, the drought in Texas reportedly cost $5.2bn to the local economy and the 2012 droughts in Spain and the US are projected to push food prices up significantly. 

Water footprinting is an approach that allows experts to measure and manage global water resources in a more sustainable manner. It helps to identify consumption in water scarce regions, where it will cause the largest impacts, and to increase the visibility of water related risks within supply chains.

Dr Craig Jones, Principle Associate at Sustain and creator of the world’s leading embodied carbon (footprint) database – The Inventory of Carbon and Energy (ICE), said: “This database will be key in the development of successful water management strategies for businesses and Government bodies alike. To date, not enough is being done and this database will show companies where the risks lie within their supply chains, in order to manage the problem more efficiently”.


Review:  When I started this blog, greenhouse gas emissions were the major concern because of their impact on our climate. Now that climate change is already having an impact, the amount of water we use (and waste) is becoming as critical.

The ICT (Information and Communications Technology) industry is mostly in the firing line for the excessive amounts of energy that equipment and devices consume. But they also use significant amounts of water in their construction, which often takes place in parts of the world where supplies are less reliable and more likely to be impacted by weather extremes, including drought.

This water footprint database should help IT and communications companies do better in managing their use of an increasingly scarce resource. Let’s hope they use it.

© The Green IT Review

1 comment:

  1. Water Footprint data on the WaterStat database by the Water Footprint Network

    The Water Footprint Network ( provides the comprehensive database "WaterStat", which at present includes:
    - Product water footprint statistics: the green, blue and grey water footprints of crops, derived crop products, biofuels, and farm animal products. All data are available at national and sub-national level.
    - National water footprint statistics: the green, blue and grey water footprints of national production and consumption.
    - International virtual water flow statistics, providing information on international virtual water trade flows and on water savings related to international trade.
    - Water scarcity statistics, providing data on blue water scarcity per river basin on a monthly basis.
    - Water pollution level statistics per river basin.

    Those data are freely available at (as images, in spreadsheet format or as rastermaps/shapefiles). Those data are be the basis (together with the global standard for water footprint assessment, as developed by the Water Footprint Network: free download at for the Water Footprint Assessment Tool, version 1.0 to be released in December 2012 (free access at