How to develop Water Efficiency KPIs

Within the development of an Environmental Management System (EMS) based on ISO 14001:2015, it is important to develop Environmental Objectives under Clause 6.2 (Environmental objectives and planning to achieve them) and other linked requirements.

One, often, neglected type of Environment Objective is water usage and consumption.

Whilst water consumption is becoming increasingly more important due to the climate change effects on the water cycle, few organisations are looking to monitor and manage this natural resource.

Whilst there are powerful tools that can be used to measure water use, such as Water Footprinting similar to Carbon Footprinting for Greenhouse Gases, these can be daunting and complicated for an initial review of water consumption.

An initial review of water consumption should use readily available data and tools, such as water meters or water consumption surveys, to develop an understanding of the organisation’s water consumption and personal behaviours about its use. As water use, is again, akin to carbon / energy use, where many of the initial usage and cost reductions can be harnessed through understanding and addressing behaviour.

Use of the consumption data over time or against comparison with similar buildings can lead to a greater understanding of the opportunities for water and cost reductions

Typical Metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), which can be used related to water use within a building, are illustrated below:


  • Volume of potable water consumed as m3 per year
  • Occupancy – number of full-time equivalent occupants (commercial spaces), number of visitors (retail leisure or public spaces), number of residents (housing)
  • Net Lettable Area (NLA) (m2)

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

  • Potable water use as m3 per occupant per year, m3 per m2 NLA per year, or litres per person per day
  • Reduction in water use as % change in use relative to the previous year

  1. Review your Environmental Objectives within your EMS for inclusion of an Objective on water consumption and use.
  2. Consider how you can monitor water consumption and use within your organisation.
  3. Develop and implement Metrics or KPIs based on the suggestions within this article or other metrics that will drive environmental performance within your organisation.
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