The Water Label
21/06/2013 | There is one topic, above all others, which has major relevance in any country of the world. In some areas it is a key priority. In others it is less so. It is sustainability. This topic, the delicate balance between people and their environment, is more critical than ever to our survival. In history, where sustainability failed, the consequences were devastating. The UK Bathroom Industry has recognised for a long time that it has a responsibility to ensure that its products are the most water and energy efficient and in less than a decade, the product portfolios of members of the Bathroom Manufacturers Association (BMA) have been completely overhauled. Bathroom products are now more sustainable than ever. We have seen some interesting and quite major innovations recently. As a result, many of the products installed in today’s bathroom have come under scrutiny. WCs, with super-efficient flush mechanisms are now common place. Taps with built in eco-click and thermo regulating valves are freely available. Eco-friendly 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 (compared with the former standard of 200 litres) are readily available. But how would a prospective bathroom buyer, whether a construction industry professional or a consumer, choose the best bathroom to suit their requirements? With this question in mind, the membership of the BMA set about designing and launching its breakthrough Water Labelling Scheme in 2006. Yvonne Orgill, Chief Executive of the BMA, explains. “The Water Label was born just over six years ago and has since been developed by the BMA to show graphically how individual bathroom and kitchen products perform. The label provides an accurate record of how much water a particular product will consume in normal use, and from that the total water consumption for new or existing premises can be calculated. The Water Label and its online database is 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, which is similar in design to the familiar energy label found on white goods, clearly shows the volume of water that the product will consume if installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.” The Water Label has progressed rapidly from that germ of an idea six years ago into today’s multi award winning benchmark scheme which has been copied across the world. It has been the catalyst for innovation and competition and has spawned the development of the Water Calculator. In early 2011 the BMA upgraded the scheme to make it more user friendly and it was adopted as the default water labelling scheme across the Europe. At present, the Water Label’s web-enabled database holds the details of well over 2000 water efficient bathroom products which, by default, have the lowest carbon footprint. Around 1000 stockists have registered their details with the scheme. The scheme is recognised by the government but still remains entirely voluntary. THE CONSUMER CAMPAIGN Early in 2012 the BMA devised and developed a year-long campaign to raise awareness of the scheme. The campaign was targeted at consumers but was also conceived to embrace construction professionals. Highlights of the campaign included: • A wide and immediate exposure by trade, consumer and broadcast media. Coverage in magazines - eg: At Home with Lorraine Kelly, Utopia KBB Mag, Celebrity Angels with Phil Spencer. • BBC and Independent Radio coverage reaching a measured 32 million listeners through 167 Radio Stations during the week of 30 April. 4 hours 42 minutes of air-time were achieved. • The BMA’s CEO, Yvonne Orgill, was interviewed live, at 06:55 on 30 April, on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today.’ The three minute interview with James Naughtie reached an audience of influencers. • The BMA’s CEO spoke at a Parliamentary Luncheon at House of Commons on 25 June – talking to ministers and MPs about the project. • Television’s DIY SOS programme took three labelled bathrooms for prime time exposure. THE EUROPEAN DIMENSION The Water Label has rapidly become the water efficiency scheme of choice in the 27 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, which was attended by over 3000 top level European delegates. The scheme is now being developed to embrace other products in Europe including sanitaryware and baths. THE WATER CALCULATOR The Water Label scheme is supported with an on-line calculation tool, simply called The Water Calculator. The calculator is a boon to construction industry professionals who can easily and quickly determine the total amount water which a given property will consume when specific products are installed. In this way they can see whether or not the property conforms with Building Regulations Approved Document L and The Code for Sustainable Homes. 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 plumbers and installers are carrying the message to their customers that products with The Water Label actually do save their utility bills and help save the planet, too.
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