Life itself depends on water. The need to conserve this precious resource is real and urgent.

7 August 2020 Kingspan Group
Kingspan_Planet Passionate_Drought_Image

Water surrounds us. 
 
Around 72 per cent of the earth’s surface is water, from the oceans, seas, and icecaps, to rivers, streams, and lakes.  It is contained within the atmosphere as clouds and vapour, falling as rain, while vast amounts are stored underground below the water table. 
 
In this way, water moves across our planet in a cycle that ensures it is forever in circulation. 
 
The vast majority (96 per cent) of all water on Earth is saline and is stored in the oceans. 
 
Human life, however, depends on access to freshwater, which is unfortunately becoming increasingly scarce while our needs are rising. Water scarcity leads to water shortages, and potentially water crises. 
 
A lack of clean water and sanitation poses significant risks to human health and it is one of the UN’s stated sustainable development goals to achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all.
 
The urgency of the water crisis and its devastating consequences are why Kingspan has included sustainable water management within its 10-year “Planet Passionate” strategy.
 
Our intention is to harvest 100 million litres of rainwater per annum at Kingspan offices and manufacturing sites by 2030, with an interim target of 50 million litres by 2025. Plus, we are partnering with several charitable foundations to support their work – ranging from ocean clean-ups to the provision of freshwater for communities around the world.
 
The Water Crises: From Shortages to Flooding 
The UN has highlighted that 4.8–5.7 billion people could suffer water shortages by 2050.  The problem is growing, and it means that ultimately a lack of freshwater will impact on human health, the environment and sustainable development.
 
The causes of these water shortages are many and complex.  In part, they are being attributed to global warming and climate change, which has dramatically altered weather patterns. 
 
However, water shortages are not the only water crises the world faces. An excess of supply in some areas means the number of people at risk from flooding is expected to rise. 
 
Flooding is expected to affect around 20 per cent of the world’s population by 2050. Just as water scarcity is attributed to climate change so is flooding, because of higher rainfall and rising sea levels across the world. 
 
But flooding events are, in part, man-made and a product of the built environment caused by rainfall run-off from hardstandings such as roofs, roads, and pavements.  Hardstanding does not absorb water, instead, it channels the resulting run-off through drainage systems (some dating back to the 1800s), which can quickly become overwhelmed. 
 
As prime development sites on well-drained land run out, building and areas of hardstanding have extended onto marginal areas around river valleys, or floodplains.  All this contributes to higher volumes of rainwater flowing directly into watercourses. 
 
Kingspan’s Sustainable Water Commitment
The construction and operation of the built environment clearly plays a significant role in allaying or reducing the risks we face. As urban areas spread, and the earth continues to warm up, there is an urgent need for us to manage our water resources better.  This includes tailored, localised strategies both to reduce the impact of future droughts and to lower the risk of future flooding. It follows that urban building design along with changes in how buildings use water can become an integral part of the solution.
 
Kingspan has undertaken to play its part. We are conserving water at our sites through process recycling, and we are aiming to harvest 100 million litres of rainwater every year at Kingspan offices and manufacturing sites by 2030.  This will help us to reduce mains water use, lower rainwater/stormwater runoff, and improve the quality of local waterways.

All the collected water will be either used by Kingspan in our operations or sold/donated.  Harvested rainwater can be used for a number of non-potable (i.e. non-drinking) applications - from washing vehicles, to watering plants, and flushing WCs.  

A policy of sustainable water use has other benefits.  Processing water in treatment plants consumes energy so reducing our dependency on mains water will reduce energy use and C02 generation. 

ECOALF Foundation Partnership
We are also mindful of the need to clean-up our oceans, removing tonnes of man-made debris and plastic waste. The UN, at its Ocean Conference in June 2017, stated that more than 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the oceans each year, and that as much as 80 per cent of all the litter in our oceans is plastic waste.

Kingspan has joined forces with the ECOALF Foundation – a not-for-profit organisation whose main objective is to promote the selective recovery of ocean waste, allowing it to be recycled and avoiding its harmful effects on the environment. Under the terms of the 3-year partnership, Kingspan will help to remove up to 150 tonnes of plastic waste from the Mediterranean each year through the ECOALF Foundation’s network of 2,600 fishermen in Spain. Our aim is to reuse as much of the ocean plastic recovered as we can in our production plants.

Rhino Water Tank CottonOn Uganda
Kingspan Partnership with Cotton On Foundation
In rural Uganda, access to clean, safe drinking water is not always easy, so Kingspan’s Water & Energy division in Australia has partnered with the local Cotton On Foundation to bring freshwater to remote communities. 
 
The work of the Cotton On Foundation has made a real difference in the Lwengo and Rakai Districts of Southern Uganda.  It has installed giant Rhino water tanks, supplied by Kingspan Water & Energy, into seven schools in the region.   The Rhino tanks capture and store rainwater, supplying freshwater to more than 5,000 schoolchildren.
 
Rhino water tanks have also been placed in a health centre which supports 500-600 patients per month.
 
The Foundation has plans to install Rhino tanks to help over 4,000 children in three additional communities, all as part of its wider goal to create 20,000 quality educational places.
 
“Some of the children in the schools we service would have to walk three or four miles for clean water. Now they can just step out of school and fill up their bucket.” Tim Diamond, General Manager Cotton On, Uganda.

Kingspan Case Studies
Our stated aim is to harvest 100 million litres of rainwater by 2030 as part of Planet Passionate.  To achieve this target we will be installing rainwater harvesting systems at our locations where possible and appropriate.

Kingspan IKON Innovation Centre, Ireland
A rainwater harvesting system installed at Kingspan’s IKON Innovation Centre in Ireland is expected to capture and store 26,700 litres of rainwater per annum. The system is being used for both toilet flushing (expected to use 15,800 litres per annum) and for test rigs in the R&D area of IKON.
 
Kingspan Poland, Rokietnica Facility
Another rainwater harvesting installation is underway at Kingspan's Rokietnica facility in Poland. The team has so far commissioned one 20,000 litre rainwater collection tank; a second tank is being fitted, and there are plans for two more, bringing the total on-site capacity to 80,000 litres.

It is calculated that 1.25m-1.7m litres of rainwater per annum will be collected from a total roof area of 3,600m2 at the facility.  That’s enough rainwater to fill a 20,000 litre tank 85 times!

All the tanks will be connected into the on-site toilet block for flushing WCs and urinals, with the current tank already delivering c.300 litres of rainwater each day into the block.

The new tanks are also being connected to Kingspan Access telemetry, providing a continuous feed of system information into the Kingspan Connect cloud-based platform.  Site managers can see how much collected rainwater is in each tank and monitor fill-ups as well as daily usage levels across the WCs/urinals.
Planet Passionate_Rainwater Harvesting_Rokietnica_Site Installation

On-Demand Webinar: Sustainable Water Management

Watch to learn more about sustainable water management strategies and considerations for urban building design.

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