Engineering Sustainable Change
Companies, governments, organizations, and individuals are increasingly realizing and responding to the risks posed by climate change and its specific impacts on water. Yet, unlike topics such as energy and carbon emissions, tools to help strategically plan for using water more efficiently and reducing water quality impacts still lag behind.
Building off the principles of net zero energy and climate neutrality, Net Zero Water (NZW) is concept that aims to change the way water resources are managed by making water resource planning decisions based on local conditions. Rather than going out and securing water supplies to meet historical demand patterns, a net zero water approach looks at local precipitation patterns and tries to maintain consumption at or below that available local supply. And, rather than allowing water quality impacts from stormwater runoff in developed areas to flow downstream, a net zero water approach looks to treat runoff on-site. NZW, or being water neutral, means using only as much water as falls on your site and eliminating all water quality impacts from the site.
To pilot the concept of NZW, Brendle Group led the development of a building-scale NZW Planning Toolkit that walks users through the process of understanding their water footprint and taking action to reduce consumption and improve water quality whether they are a building owner, company, school campus, or community.
“Net Zero Water addresses and important gap in the water resource management conversation because of the resources it provides to support sustainable water use amidst today’s many water challenges,” says Barb Martin, Senior Manager at American Water Works Association and Technical Advisory Group member for the NZW Initiative. “The Net Zero Water building scale toolkit is a useful tool because it provides a framework allowing organizations of all sizes to easily assess and improve site water usage to achieve their goals.”
To launch this groundbreaking initiative, a user-friendly Microsoft Excel®-based analysis tool and companion guidebook (NZW Planning Toolkit) have been developed with the help of a project team, sponsors, and a technical advisory group. The NZW Planning Toolkit is designed to help users quantify their water footprint, evaluate reduction strategies, and recognize financial and environmental benefits from reducing their water use and water quality impacts. It is anticipated to be used widely across the public and private sectors and is
intended to standardize and simplify water analysis and planning, while maximizing economic returns and environmental benefits.
The building-scale Toolkit is currently available for free download at here on the our website. Subsequent phases will focus on modules for the building portfolio, campus, district/neighborhood, and community scales.
To learn more contact: Becky Fedak, Water and Climate Practice Area Leader 970.207.0058 NetZeroWater@BrendleGroup.com