Net Zero Water to Save the World? New Approach to Handling Water-Related Challenges

net zero water
Net Zero Water has the potential to bring a dramatic decrease to the ever-growing global demand for potable water. Source: ProMinent

Communities throughout the world are facing water-related challenges. It has been happening for years now, but today it simply cannot go unnoticed. Shocking water shortage reports from developing countries capture our attention, and, unsurprisingly, developed countries face the same challenges. Climate change causes water imbalance in the environment, which results in rainfalls that flood human settlements or extensive drought. This is why water sustainability initiatives are gaining relevance. Net Zero Water is one of the solutions for water-related challenges. Similar to Net Zero Energy, Net Zero Water aims at helping a building achieve self-sufficiency from the water grid.

Water, climate change, and quality of life bear an inherent connection between each other. The latter, along with the state of environment, depend directly on human activity. As we progress, our consumption rates grow. According to a UN report, the current pace and rate of water consumption will lead to demand outstripping the supply by 40% by 2030 already. And Net Zero Water is a possible solution to the problem.

What Is Net Zero Water?

Net Zero Water is a state that is achieved when the unused water matches the hydrology of the site. In other words, to achieve Net Zero Water, 100% of the site’s water resources (rainwater and wastewater) is to be treated and managed through reuse or infiltration on site.

“Project water use and release must work in harmony with the natural water flows of the site and its surroundings. One hundred percent of the project’s water needs must be supplied by captured precipitation or other natural closed-loop water systems, and/or by recycling used project water. All stormwater and water discharge, including grey and black water, must be treated onsite and managed either through reuse, a closed-loop system, or infiltration. Excess stormwater can be released onto adjacent sites under certain conditions.”

Compliance with Net Zero Water makes a building almost completely self-sufficient. Obviously, it is impossible to reach absolute net zero, but the new approach has a potential to drastically reduce the burden on aquifers and consequently relieve the environment water-wise. The method ensures minimal waste with minimal demand from nature.

How Is It Implemented around the World?

Net zero initiatives are real and operating. An estimated 65 water treatment facilities comply with Net Zero Water around the planet, among them major facilities and industry leaders. A number of US cities have the new standard under way, like Seattle, Washington and Alexandria, Virginia. Alexandria authorities confirm that the initiative will help reduce water waste by 29% in comparison with the developments abiding by the city’s previous standards established in 2019.

microsoft net zero office
Microsoft aims at reaching net zero globally by 2030. Source: Microsoft

Microsoft is a great example of a Net Zero Water complying corporation. The 2017 company report introduced a new water management strategy. In accordance with the innovation, Microsoft built the first ever net zero campus in Silicon Valley. The company aims at reaching net zero globally by 2030.

Net Zero Water has the potential to bring a dramatic decrease to the ever-growing global demand for potable water. The decrease will eventually ensure stability to the global potable water situation, which will affect the quality of life. The more communities and companies join in on the initiative, the sooner it will happen.