Water footprinting - or water footprint assessment: how to calculate the impacts of products and services on the Earth's water resources
To begin with, "water footprint" meant the total volume of water used to produce a good or service or used to run and support a business, when all stages of its life cycle or supply chain were considered.
ISO 14046 now refers to "water footprint assessment" - a technique firmly rooted in life cycle assessment that not only quantifies water use across the life cycle but considers changes in water quality and water-related environmental impacts along with the timing and location of changes.
A water footprint assessment highlights water-related risks and environmental impacts in company supply chains and product life cycles.
Water consumption hotspots may be far upstream or reflect product use - as is often the case for personal washing products.
Some 70% of global fresh water use by humans is for agricultural activities, so plant-derived material production is also often highlighted in a water footprint.
Corporate-level water footprinting identifies locations in the corporation or its supply-chain where the use of water poses an elevated burden on local resources and hence presents high business risks.
Product-level water footprinting identifies material and/or processes associated with high potential impacts on water resources and the water environment.
Site-level water monitoring is fundamental to both techniques and yet remains poorly-implemented in many businesses.
For many businesses water is often a critical - but overlooked - resource. Carrying out a water footprint assessment with EuGeos will help you
At EuGeos, we can help you use water footprinting to analyse and manage water risks in your business and upstream in your supply-chain.
We have extensive experience of environmental audit on manufacturing sites so we can advise you on the basics of site-by-site water monitoring. We can couple site water consumption data with local water stress factors to identify high water-risk locations.
As LCA experts, we can then draw on water-balanced LCA databases to place your water use in the context of the water used to produce and process raw materials.
We have already calculated water footprints for food and construction products, and contributed to the Construction Products Association's guide to the contribution of construction products to water efficiency.
Contact us now to explore your organisation's water footprint
tel: +44 (0) 1625 434423
Footprinting can be carried out using an on-line calculator, an in-house calculator based on ad-hoc spreadsheets and databases, and there are specialist software tools available on the market for the advanced users. At EuGeos all our LCA and footprinting projects are prepared using openLCA.EuGeos is the official UK partner of openLCA, the open-source software for Life Cycle Assessment, carbon footprinting, water footprinting, EPDs and more.