Water Usage May Be the Key to Becoming Net Zero

By Ariana Nieves,
Sustainable Investment Group (SIG)

image of water treatmentIt is getting increasingly complex for organizations to cut carbon substantially. Many successful strategies have already taken place or are in progress. Businesses need to focus on usage rather than trying to offset its impact to achieve meaningful carbon reduction.

One source that is often overlooked is water. Water is used in many business operations and accounts for a high carbon footprint due to moving, treating, and heating it. Freshwater is essential for receiving and integrating raw materials and completing and shipping products; it is an integral part of the supply chain. However, all water use requires energy – which results in a considerable carbon shadow that silently impacts the environment in a negative way.

Companies will need to approach the issue with a new mindset to combat this nexus between water and carbon. That means thinking of water in a greener way, such as through re-use, desalination, and reducing the amount of water needed. According to research, organizations could save 86 billion cubic meters of water by 2030 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 12 million tons if action is taken now.

Yet, how can organizations achieve this? Here are the top 4 methods researchers are recommending to achieve progress fast:

  1. Understand the Organization’s Water and Decarbonization Challenges & Opportunities

Mapping out the company’s ecosystem is a great way to understand what usage point the business is currently at and some areas where companies can improve. Generating a starting point is an essential first step to achieving real change.

  1. Discover Greener Ways to Access Water

Innovation is key to generating new sources of water. The technology surrounding ocean water desalination is improving with time, and high focus is covering this area of need. With time, new technology could help alleviate the need for greener water sources. Companies can support this effort by investigating these innovations and investing in start-ups that seem viable.

  1. Innovate for Energy Efficiency

Technology systems such as AI, IoT, machine learning, and analytics can help track the energy efficiency of new water source innovations. Investing in technological data systems such as digital twins (virtual replicas of physical assets) could help to predict water usage, boost performance, conduct scenario-based planning for water efficiencies, and identify any faults or gaps.

  1. A Greener Core Business Strategy

An organization can potentially have a more significant impact than one individual; educating and training the company’s workforce to be aware of water efficiencies can help. Employees can take this knowledge and bring it to consumers to help raise awareness. There is a common misconception that water is free or inexpensive. However, organizations can help by being transparent about water costs and water’s connection to carbon emissions.

SIG’s new Green Team initiative is an excellent example of this.  The Green Team’s mission is “to hold ourselves accountable as a company and as individuals, tracking our impact so that we can reduce our emissions and improve our daily habits.”

One way the team achieves this is by utilizing the Eevie app. A habit tracking app that allows SIG employees to track their daily emissions, practice better habits, and learn new strategies for efficient/low-impact living. The app rewards each user with a tree to be planted in a series of countries affected by deforestation. The Green Team also customizes monthly challenges to combat specific problems, such as water usage. It is a great way to educate and motivate our SIG employees and inspires us to improve both SIGs and our personal efficiency.

Water usage is an essential factor in greenhouse gas emissions, and it is now more important than ever to find alternatives. Fresh water sources are depleting, and the need for reduced fossil fuel usage will only increase the water demand. Companies need to act now to solve the water-carbon nexus to create a better future for the environment.




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