Water is essential to all businesses. From water for crops or product components, to the water used at a facility or office for basic needs, every business uses water in some way. Understanding water consumption and usage is necessary for creating a more sustainable future.
Water footprints are a measure of humanity’s use of fresh water in volumes of water consumed and/or polluted.
There are three types of business-specific water footprints: corporate, direct/operational, and indirect/supply chain. Let’s explore what each of these means.
What Is A Corporate Water Footprint?
A corporate water footprint is the total water used by a business or organization to produce its goods or services.
The water footprint of an organization includes its direct (operational) water footprint and its indirect (supply-chain) water footprint.
A direct or operational water footprint represents the water footprint resulting from business operations, or the direct water used for producing, manufacturing, or supporting activities by a business or organization.
An indirect or supply-chain water footprint represents the water footprint of the inputs and products used in the supply chain and production activities of a company.
Both the direct and indirect water footprints are calculated using a combination of a company’s blue, green, and grey water footprints. For example, the production of one kilogram of beef requires approximately 15 thousand liters of water and its water footprint is approximately 93% green, 4% blue, and 3% grey.
For reference, the total global water footprint of humanity from 1996-2005 was 9087 billion cubic meters per year. Agricultural production contributes about 92% to our total footprint.
How Are Water Footprints Measured And Reported?
Water footprints can be determined using a Water Footprint Assessment, which is a three-phase process that:
- quantifies and maps green, blue, and grey water footprints
- assesses the sustainability, efficiency, and equitability of water use
- identifies strategic actions to make a footprint sustainable
Organizations can also calculate and report on their water footprints using reporting frameworks like the ISO 14046 standard or the Global Water Footprint Standard, which provide detailed instruction and guidance for:
- How to calculate green, blue, and grey water footprints
- How to conduct a water footprint sustainability assessment
- How to use water footprint accounting and sustainability assessment for strategic planning
How to Manage a Water Footprint?
Decreasing a corporate water footprint and improving the efficiency of water consumption in business processes offers many benefits. These can include cost savings, revenue generation, as well as gaining a competitive advantage by demonstrating operational innovation. Organizations can truly benefit when they proactively manage their water footprint.
Organizations can take control of their water footprint by following these steps:
- Create and map a water strategy around sustainable water stewardship practices
- Utilize a technology solution to capture and manage data
- Automate reporting to common water frameworks
- Share water stewardship progress with all stakeholders
Do you need help understanding your corporate water footprint? The FigBytes Water Stewardship Solution tracks, measures, and manages water risks and impacts across an organization. FigBytes gives you full control to take the lead as a responsible water steward.