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In the homes sector the 'water' sustainability issue can be sub divided into two separate categories, Consumption and Management.
Homes use water, and from a sustainability perspective the less they use the better! From a design, construction and operational perspective there are many things which can be done to make water consumption more sustainable - such as reducing consumption through more efficient appliances, education and innovations such as increased use of grey water for things like flushing toilets.
Responsible organisations now measure and report use of potable and non potable water on site. This includes the water efficiency achieved by end-users of the buildings they operate. The Government has a target of reducing water consumption by 20% per person by 2030. This has been addressed in the recently updated Part G of the Building Regulations.
Parts of the UK suffer from water scarcity - the South East of England often faces significant water shortages sometimes resulting in hosepipe bans and other such restrictions on supply. However, this represents just part of the problem; many developed countries such as the UK have significantly externalised their water footprint, importing water-intensive goods from elsewhere. This puts pressure on the water resources in the exporting regions, where too often mechanisms for wise water governance and conservation are lacking.
Along with consumption the management of water is equally important. There is significant evidence to suggest that climate change is resulting in higher intensity rainfall events in the UK, exacerbating the potential for flooding and necessitating the need for Sustainable Urban Drainage, or SuDS.
There is also a need for planners and designers to consider the development of homes in areas potentially at risk of flooding as our climate changes and the need to build more homes increases.
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