EPSRC Policy Fellowships in Defra

Lead Research Organisation: University of Brighton
Department Name: Sch of Environment and Technology


There are economic, social, technological and environmental challenges to the development of effective policies to mitigate the water challenges of the 21st century. To this end, preservation of water resources requires a three-way evidence-based approach, broadly: reduce consumption and minimise waste; recycle and reuse water; and reduce associated energy consumption in treatment and distribution activities. Technological innovations for buildings and urban infrastructure can help improve the effective supply and use of water in buildings and put in place measures to achieve current standards set in the building regulations and other supply regulatory instruments. However, for any solution to succeed, the collaboration of consumers, policy makers, academia/research and industry is required to explore and implement credible solutions aimed at increasing knowledge/awareness, technological change and socio-behavioural change. This is even more important in order to realise the challenge of meeting the 80% carbon emission reduction target by 2050.The core aim of the fellowship will be to further explore the interfaces between active and passive processes: information, technological and infrastructure processes for optimising water supply and waste systems in buildings and urban environments on one hand and socio-economic constructs on the other. A clear understanding of these interfaces and their interaction is necessary to achieve the change required. By working with DEFRA and partner government/industry groups, it will be possible to map interdependent variables affecting the fore-mentioned policy issues, affecting the reduction of resource waste and carbon emissions in supply and treatment processes. At the end of the fellowship, it will be possible to propose an integrated route to complement current policies for water efficiency and carbon reduction in the built environment. This will comprise two parts: the first will comprise policy recommendations which will propose logical, sequential and innovation-led 'options' to resolve water and waste-related challenges. This will encourage innovation, reduce constraints and promote the collective responsibility necessary to achieve expected goals. It is anticipated that this will further facilitate customisable (flexible) solutions to achieve further efficiency in water supply and use, reduction in waste water generation, increase in recyclable rainwater/grey water all without excessive strain on suppliers and users. This policy recommendation will need an implementation support system. Therefore the second output will propose a holistic systems approach to inform the targeted delivery of technological solutions on a micro scale, for specific urban areas. This will provide the evidence necessary for decision and policy making regarding the regulation of the built environment. This may be in the form of an information base designed to integrate physical, geo-morphological, environmental and social (demand/supply) datasets from multi-disciplinary sources that already exist within or that collaborate with DEFRA.

Planned Impact



10 25 50
Description Efficiency in the consumption and use of water in domestic buildings is vital for protecting water resources for the future. About half of the water put into supply by water companies are to meet domestic demand alone and the demand from this sector continuous to rise year on year.

Water efficiency is the optimised use of water commensurate to need it focuses on reducing waste during water processes. By understanding water customers and need, efficient use can be achieved through behaviour, technology and infrastructure efficiency.

This study started with exploring the interfaces between stakeholders, processes and products was needed and the constraints imposed by the nature of the industry. In essence, who does what, why and to what end. Also, it was necessary to explore relationships and dependencies i.e. the impact of policy decisions on the water industry or related industries, processes, people and products (output and throughput) and where the gaps are on issues of buildings and the built environment. In addition, existing evidence supporting regulatory measures and strategies were explored to identify what is actually known.

The research was stakeholder focussed and started with policy makers who are at the top of the spectrum. The final stages of the study focussed predominantly on water users - attitudes, behaviours and choice with the view to exploring how to increase value and promote positive change. This was achieved without dissociating from the original objective of explores innovative ways to effectively reduce the waste of water in buildings. Finally, through conceptual mapping of algorithmic rules implemented in an information system, a means of delivering demand transformation, increased user awareness and responsibility is proposed. This is aimed at facilitating a policy approach that is not entirely reliant on minimum standards and targets, but instead facilitates flexibility and creativity.

The study concluded with a number of policy and general recommendations some of which addressed findings on the need to improve the value relationship with customers and the level of awareness and involvement in the water efficiency debate.
Exploitation Route As described above. In addition, the Water Efficiency in Buildings Network was initiated by the grantholder as a result of this fellowship. The network promotes research and knowledge dissemination on water efficiency in buildings. It has an international membership comparising of academics, industry practitioners, policy makers, regulators and NGOs. The network is funded by DEFRA. The output of the study were two sets of recommendations. One for policy makers and regulators and the other for stakeholders and water users.

These recommendations can be used to formulate water efficiency policy either through policy guidelines or legislation. They other set of recommendations can be used to implement practical strategies for promoting water efficiency behaviour by water users on one hand, and to promote the adoption of water saving technologies on the other.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Construction,Education,Environment

URL http://www.watefnetwork.co.uk
Description The study led to the creation of the Water Efficiency Network in 2011 which is still funded by DEFRA
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Construction,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Environment,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Other
Impact Types Societal,Policy & public services