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Communities and Local Government highlight water efficiency as a key priority. Why is water efficiency a concern and what are the broader impacts of the built environment on water management? How effectively does BREEAM assess water related issues?

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Introduction

Water covers about 70% of the earth's surface but only 1% of that water is clean and suitable for drinking. That is why water is so important. However, because in most countries clean water can be accessed very easily, people usually take it for granted and have little or no concern for its availability. An average person in the United Kingdom uses about 150 litres of water per day and the demand keeps on rising by 1% every year since 1930. In a typical UK household the average use of water is 275 litres of which two thirds are used in the bathroom, either for flushing the toilet or for baths/showers (Save The Rain). Moreover, it is estimated that an office demands about 62 litres of water per head of which, around 63% is intended for uses such as toilet flushing. According to an article by Guardian, the consumption of water per UK citizen increases when "hidden factors are included" (meaning the production of food and clothing) to 4,645 litres (Felicity, 2008). The above, along with the fact that UK has less available water per person compared to most other European countries, means the situation is very bad for the UK and explains why communities and governments are concerned with water efficiency. ...read more.

Middle

This also includes a fixed factor of water for outdoor equal to 5 litres per person per day. This also applies when more than one dwelling is installed, like a building block (The Building Regulations, 2009). This is also the minimum provision in the Code of Sustainable Homes (Department for Communities and Local Government, 2009). A voluntary environmental assessment method is the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREAAM). BREEAM as suggested by the name is an independent environmental assessment method for buildings, nationally and internationally recognised. It is a credit based (9 categories) certification scheme and it is updated annually. For every building there is a pre-assessment estimator and an assessor manual. The second is intended to be used only by licensed BREEAM assessors. Despite the fact that a pre-assessment estimator exists for homes, an assessor manual does not. Small residential buildings (for example semi-detached houses) have to comply with the Code of Sustainable Homes. For this essay, in order to assess how effectively BREEAM assesses water related issues the pre-assessment estimator for eco-homes was used as well as the Code of Sustainable Homes and the assessor manual for multi-residential buildings. The aim in the Code of Sustainable Homes is "To reduce the consumption of potable water in the home from all sources, ...read more.

Conclusion

An attempt was also made to assess how effectively does the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) treat water related issues. It concluded that water efficiency is indeed a concern since, billions of potable water is lost every day for purposes where rainwater and grey-water can be used, or due to leakages which can be prevented. Water management has a key role in minimizing the potable water which is lost, and can be achieved by using both mandatory and voluntary methods. However, it is up to all people individually to achieve a better water efficiency for everyone. As Dr. Richard Carter and Sarah Harmer say, "Professional institutes such as IEEM try to set standards for ecological surveys, but there are limits to what they can do. The natural world is complex, and prescriptive survey guidelines have time and again proved worthless in a world where every ecological survey turns out to be somehow unique" (Carter & Harmer, 2008). Finally, "Judgement as to the sustainability of a building is made based on its predicted performance. Without post occupancy assessment how can one possibly know whether BREEAM is successfully predicting the sustainability and overall environmental nature of a building project" (Anonymous, obtained from the lecture notes). ...read more.

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