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Towards A Water-efficient Europe: Can Servicizing Business Models And Policies Help To Promote Greywater Recycling And Rainwater Harvesting At Household Level?

Congress: 2015
Author(s): Alma Lopez-Aviles (GUILDFORD, UK), Jonathan Chenoweth, Angela Druckman, Steven Morse
Alma López-Avilés, Jonathan Chenoweth, Angela Druckman, Stephen Morse
Centre for Environmental Strategy, University of Surrey, UK


Keyword(s): Sub-theme 13: Non-conventional sources of water,
Oral:
Abstract

Alma López-Avilés*^, Jonathan Chenoweth*, Angela Druckman* and Steve Morse* *Centre for Environmental Strategy, University of Surrey, UK ^ Centre for Environmental Strategy, Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences University of Surrey, GUILDFORD GU2 7XH, UK. Tel. 00 44(0)1483 686678/Fax 00 44(0)1483 686671/ Email: a.lopez-aviles@surrey.ac.uk Subtheme area/s: Non-conventional sources of water/ Management of water resources Key words: grey water recycling, rainwater harvesting, servicizing Introduction Servicizing systems facilitate the transition from selling products to providing services. A move from owning a product (e.g. bicycle, car, photocopier) to contracting a service to satisfy a specific customer need can lead to significant improvements in resource-efficiency. Moreover, innovative servicizing business models can improve uptake of certain products by reducing barriers such as upfront purchase costs, and by taking away from the consumer responsibilities such as maintenance and repairs. Therefore, the purchase, installation and maintenance of grey water recycling and rainwater harvesting systems at domestic level can be facilitated through servicizing, and the widespread adoption of such water-efficient systems can significantly reduce demands on municipal water supply and associated energy use. Conceptual framework Water is already servicized to a large extent in much of Europe and the developed world, and consumers do not "consume" water in the same way that they consume energy, for example. When water is "consumed" only its quality changes as in a normal household, a very large proportion of the water supplied to the home comes out and joins the system as 'waste water'. Households effectively already pay water companies or municipalities for services such as the storage, treatment and supply of potable water, and for the removal and treatment of waste water. This situation is referred to in this paper as 'first level servicizing'. Improved efficiency of appliances like washing and dish-washing machines, dual flush toilets and water-saving showers have contributed to reduce water wastage and associated negative environmental impacts. However, further improvements are possible by re-using some of our domestic water locally. For example, waste water from wash-basins and showers can be easily treated and stored, and can be reused for toilet flushing. Equally, rainwater can be collected and stored and this can be used for toilet flushing or even clothes-washing. Barriers to the widespread adoption of grey water recycling and rainwater harvesting systems at domestic level have included cost, trust on the reliability of the systems, and inconvenience of maintaining the systems. Servicizing grey water recycling and rainwater harvesting systems can provide the means to overcome these barriers. This type of servicizing is referred to as 'second level servicizing' in this paper. Other second level servicizing options include improved management of the water used for irrigation in farms and gardens, more efficient water treatment and recycling systems for industrial facilities, and communal water intensive services such as laundries. Methods A household survey was developed to explore the environmental attitudes of consumers in southeast England and the motivations of households to adopt grey water recycling and rainwater harvesting systems. The potential acceptability of installing and using these systems was tested by providing respondents with various sets of options to choose from so that preferences could be explored. Options included an in-house small grey water recycling system versus an outdoors large system combining grey water recycling and rainwater harvesting. In addition to type of system to choose from, the options included also variations based on the type of service contract. Three types were offered: 1) installation of a system with household owning the system, 2) installation and maintenance of a system with household owning the system, and 3) fully servicized system, with a servicizing company owning the system, installing it and maintaining it for a number of years and then transferring ownership. Other options included type of company/business providing the service. Over 300 responses were collected among customers of South East Water, a water company collaborating in this study that supplies water in Surrey and Kent in southeast England. Results Analysis of the household survey data presents a mixed picture of the potential for increasing servicing in the water sector to reduce water consumption and associated impacts like energy use. For example, when asked about their perception of water, about half of respondents thought that unlimited water use is a basic right and that the quality of the showering experience is more important than the volume used. However, when asked about whether they would be willing to consider installing a rainwater harvesting or grey water recycling system, approximately a third of respondents selected one of the grey water recycling or rain water harvesting options presented to them via scenario sets. This is more than twice the proportion of respondents that in previous direct questions had answered that they would definitely or possibly consider installing a grey water recycling or rainwater harvesting system. This suggests that when presented with scenarios describing fully servicized systems, where upfront cost and maintenance responsibilities rest with a company, respondents reconsidered their answers and there was a one-third take up on the positive answers provided. Overall, the servicizing options presented were moderately well selected by survey respondents suggesting, a) that there is willingness from consumers to adopt grey water recycling and rainwater harvesting systems if the right conditions exist, and b) that servicizing can be key in terms of promoting water- efficient systems. Conclusions Household water use can potentially be "servicized" by providing additional services beyond just water and sanitation to providing a wider range of water related services relating to water use within the house, e.g. grey water recycling and rainwater harvesting, that help households reduce their consumption of municipal water.

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