Servicing Policy Packages for the Water Sector- Executive Summary
Publication Year: 2015
SPREE: Servicing Policy for Resource Efficient Economy is a three-year project from 2012-2015 under the European Union’s Environment Program (FP7). The objective of the project is to design policy packages to achieve sustainable production and consumption patterns characterized by the transition from the purchase of consumer products to services in three sectors: water, transportation and food agriculture. The main product of the project is “Policy Packages for Transition to Service Consumption” which will help achieve a complete separation between economic growth and environmental damage while taking into consideration social considerations.
The Servicing Policy Packages is the key outcome of SPREE Project. The Servicing Policy Packages in the Water sector is based on the project’s accumulated knowledge on the transition towards servicing and contributes to the development of policies to promote decoupling of economic growth and social prosperity from inefficient use of resources, through the facilitation of Grey-water Recycling (GWR) and Rain Water Harvesting (RWH) systems.
GWR and RWH systems may require alterations to the rooms where they are installed (e.g. bathroom, kitchen, loft, and cellar) but they help households to save water and reduce reliance on standard water supply. These systems can contribute to save money on water bills when water is metered. The inventory of policy instruments was created in order to achieve the policy goal of decoupling. The decoupling indicator for the Water sector was defined as the ratio between the economic cost and environmental impact (emissions/mains water use) of abstracting, treating, delivering and disposing of water in GWR & RWH systems. The decoupling level was measured against the decoupling level in the conventional water supply system in order to assess the effects of shifting to servicing.
The introduction of both GWR and RWH systems into the built environment may lead to decoupling. By introduction of such systems less water has to be conveyed through mains, thereby reducing the pressure on water resources and saving the energy that is used to convey and pump water. However, not in all settings is the introduction of both types of systems feasible. In arid or semi-arid environments, such as along the Mediterranean, precipitation may be too meagre and variable to rely on RWH systems. Similarly, in areas with low pressure on water resources GWR systems may be deemed as superfluous and carrying health risks.
Due to the health concerns associated with both GWR and RWH, the professional maintenance of such systems is crucial. Servicing is thus a crucial for the introduction of such systems. Essentially, through servicing both the building and maintenance of such systems is carried out by professionals, who take responsibility for the performance of such systems. Hence, servicing should be viewed as integral for the introduction of such systems, and for their decoupling benefits.