The Water Label. Innovative & Essential
21/11/2013 | The Water Label is a truly innovative scheme embracing the urgent and growing need for water and energy efficiency. It is a catalyst for change in products, processes and perceptions. It is a beacon, signalling a change in water consumption for both professionals and consumers alike. The Water Label has promoted water efficiency as a virtuous and positive benefit of a product. BMA members have found that their designers and sales/marketing staff have soon latched on to the benefits of water efficiency in their product ranges. Now housebuilders, developers and housing associations, together with their contractors, are carrying the message to their customers that products with The Water Label actually do save cost. Yvonne Orgill, Chief Executive of the Bathroom Manufacturers Association, reviews the progress. ________________________________________ A DELICATE BALANCE There is one topic, above all others, which has relevance in any country of the world. Sustainability.The delicate balance between people and their environment is more critical than ever to our survival. Latest estimates suggest that Europe is heading towards drought and that it will run dry in 2050. By then, there simply won’t be enough drinking water to support us all. Our population is growing fast and so too is our love of water-consuming appliances. It’s a no-win situation, so doing nothing is not an option and our leaders in the EU have pledged to act. They want to change our behaviour towards water. SOME INTERESTING INNOVATIONS The Bathroom Industry has long recognised that it has a responsibility to ensure that its products are the most water and energy efficient and in the last decade, the portfolios of members of the BMA have been completely overhauled. Bathroom products are now more sustainable than ever. We have seen some interesting and quite major innovations in the bathroom. WC suites, with super-efficient flush mechanisms are now common place. Taps with built in eco-click and thermo regulating valves are freely available. Eco-lite shower controls and shower heads have enjoyed massive growth and these, like click-taps, can be used to achieve savings in both water and energy consumption. Similarly, comfortable baths with a capacity of just 130 litres are readily available. Consumers are benefiting from the cost savings and developers are benefiting from products which help them achieve government targets. A COMMITMENT But how would a prospective bathroom buyer choose the best bathroom to suit their requirements? With this question in mind, the BMA set about designing and launching its breakthrough Water Labelling Scheme in 2006. The Label and its online databases are a real boon for designers, architects, house builders and their contractors who are required, by law, to meet the Building and Water Regulations. The label itself clearly shows the volume of water that a product will consume if installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions. RAPID PROGRESS The Water Label has progressed rapidly from that germ of an idea into today’s multi-award winning benchmark scheme. It is now the catalyst for innovation and the web-enabled database now holds the details of well over 3000 water efficient products which, by default, have the lowest carbon footprint. Around 1000 stockists have registered their details with the scheme. which is recognised by the government but still remains entirely voluntary. THE CONSUMER CAMPAIGN In 2012 the BMA devised and developed a year-long campaign to raise awareness of the scheme. It was targeted at consumers but was also conceived to embrace construction professionals. Highlights of the campaign included wide and immediate exposure by the media. Magazines such as At Home with Lorraine Kelly, Utopia KBB Mag, and Celebrity Angels with Phil Spencerwere seen in the newsagents. The BBC and Independent Radio coverage reached 32 million listeners and a total of 4 hours 42 minutes of air-time were achieved. The BMA’s CEO, Yvonne Orgill, was interviewed live early on 30 April, on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today,’ and she spoke at a Parliamentary Luncheon at House of Commons in June, talking to ministers and MPs about the project. THE EUROPEAN DIMENSION The Water Label has become the water efficiency scheme of choice in the 28 countries of Europe, plus Switzerland, Turkey and Israel. It has been adopted by CEIR – The European Association for the Taps and Valves Industry – who launched the scheme at the Green Week in May 2012. THE WATER CALCULATOR The Water Label scheme is supported with an on-line calculation tool, simply called The Water Calculator. It is now the ‘must have’ tool for eco-aware bathroom designers. Created to aid industry professionals the Water Calculator is a web-based tool which automatically calculates the water-consumption in new properties and enables them to see whether or not their property conforms with Building Regulations Approved Document L and The Code for Sustainable Homes. Over 1000 professionals now regularly access the Water Calculator website wherethey may register to save all their work to the secure, personal online files or they may print off their results as they go along. The calculation simply involves selecting products from the drop-down menus linked to the huge Water Label database. www.thewatercalculator.org.uk THE FUTURE The Water Label is growing fast. Its business model is becoming the scheme of choice but its originators, the BMA, won’t rest and are keen to see it develop further. Members of the BMA are delighted that the scheme is being now adopted by builders merchants and retailers and welcome their involvement.
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