Unlike Energy and Carbon where the combined impacts of many small local actions can result in a global effect like Climate Change, water use in the built environment is a truly local factor. In some part of the world water is in abundant supply and will be for the foreseeable future. In these areas risks with too much percipitation e.g flooding might have to be managed. In other parts of the world water stress or scarcity is already a constant reminder of poor water management practices or potential consequences of Climate Change.
Challenges and opportunities
The understanding of water use and intensity in the built environment is currently not as well understood as Energy, Carbon or Materials. What we know is that water is required for many different purposes – human consumption and hygiene as well as for construction processes and production of materials. What we also know is that there are different qualities of water depending on the purpose of its use, ranging from potable water to “grey” water generated from domestic activities and “black” water from sewage.
The challenge in water management is to recognize that different qualities of water exist and to use each water quality in the most efficient way possible and for the most appropriate applications. In the built environment, most water consumption occurs in the use-phase of the structure, especially if it is a building. In comparison to the use-phase, the construction process uses relatively small quantities of water and the water intensity of materials used for construction varies. However, opportunities to make both the construction process and the use-phase of the building more water efficient exist and are recognized by Skanska.
Changes in precipitation pattern increase the vulnerability of some regions resulting in need for adaptation of the built environment. It may lead to changes in the location of building and infrastructure developments, and the nature of these developments might have to change to increase resistance and decrease damages to the built environment. For Skanska, being a developer and contractor, this potential upcoming need is a challenge but also an opportunity to offer our skills and services.
Water as a strategic question is new for Skanska at corporate level. In some parts of the company it is already locally important but in others it is an abundant resource for as far forward as we can see. The water availability in our home markets has been assessed by Skanska as follows:
Policy and strategy
Skanska’s approach to water is to focus on things we can directly control and directly influence.
Strategic direction is informed by our Environmental Policy. The Color Palette™ defines external products and services for our customers. Both have been shaped by recognition of the need to increase water efficiency and mitigate risks in changed precipitation patterns related to the built environment. It reflects Skanska’s desire to exploit new opportunities created by the need to adapt and mitigate in response to consequences of climate change. The Environmental Strategy and the Color Palette™ contain actions that have been influenced by these challenges and opportunities.
Our Environmental Policy states that “We will …….reduce demand for, conserve and recycle water resources”. In addition “we will minimize the negative impact of our operations on water………”
In the Environmental Strategy 2008-2010 water was addressed as part of Local Impacts and in our Biodiversity work. For our Strategy 2011-2015 and in the Color Palette™ we have lifted Water out and given it a separate focus in acknowledgement of the growing recognition that one of the most serious effects of Climate Change will be changes in rainfall pattern and related impact on water resources in different parts of the world.
As a result, our evolving strategy is to
- Increase water efficiency in the construction process and in the final built structure
- Where applicable substitute potable water for alternative quality grades and reuse and recycle water to the extent technically possible.
- Utilizing our competency and risk management system to mitigate and offer experience to our customers to address long term changes that precipitation extremes could have on the built environment.
Further develop an understanding of the relevance and significance of water footprint concepts to our operations and projects.
For Business Plan 2011-2015 we have decided to position water as one of four key components of the Skanska Color Palette and our Journey to Deep Green™ because of its growing important in some of our Home Markets.
View some of our case studies on Water:
Green Strategic Indicator (GSI)
For Business Plan 2011-2015 a set of seven GSIs were agreed by the Senior Executive Team as a means of monitoring environmental progress.
The GSI for water is “percent of projects with at least 25% better water efficiency compared to code or defined baseline”. Each Business Unit reports annually the result to the Skanska AB Senior Executive Team.