Over the next 20 years, demand for water is set to increase substantially. This will be driven by population growth coupled with an ambitious programme of development on one hand, and increasing per capita water consumption on the other. Yet there is likely to be less water available - climate change is forecast to make it drier and the EU’s environmental protection legislation, combined with the general direction of government policy is likely to lead to tighter controls on abstraction. The overall picture is one of ever increasing demand for an ever scarcer resource, and less water will need to go further.

The economy is heavily dependent on water for agriculture, industry, tourism and recreation. Water shortages during drought have a deleterious effect on the internationally significant rivers, wetlands and wildlife and we must ensure that this is not exacerbated by the effects of abstraction.

Government Regulations – Part G of the Building Regulations and the Code for Sustainable Homes

The Government is driving a sustainable development programme that mandates improved water efficiency in the built environment. The Code for Sustainable Homes was introduced in 2007 and Part G of the Building Regulations now includes water efficiency for the first time. In addition, improved water efficiency in new development will be backed-up through the planning system, as the Government allows the planning system to mandate water efficiency targets in excess of the Building Regulations where there is demonstrable local need.

This all means that developers are now expected to contribute to achieving sustainable resource use through innovation in their normal business activities. The water calculator provides a resource to assist developers create water efficient buildings.

The following resources provide further information on water efficient building, products and Government policy:

• Water efficient buildings
Information on sustainable water-efficient development, meeting regulations, the need for water efficiency and much more.
• Water Efficient Product Labeling Scheme
Lists hundreds of water-efficient products.
• Future Water
The Government over-arching water policy (Defra 2008).
• Water Efficiency in New Buildings
A joint Defra and Communities and Local Government policy statement (Defra and CLG 2007).
• Building A Green Future
Policy Statement (CLG 2007).