The UK concrete sector is very aware of the importance of water,
especially when considered alongside the likely impacts of global
warming and climate change.
Water is a finite resource. And, unlike oil, there is no
substitute for water. Of all the water on Earth, less than one
percent is easily accessible freshwater for human consumption, and
this water has to be shared with the natural environment.
Increasing human demand for water coupled with the effects of
climate change mean that the future of our water supply is not
In the UK our wet maritime climate has provided a relatively
assured supply of domestic, agricultural and industrial water.
Recent floods, however, confirm the unpredictability of our water
resources; the trend is towards less rainfall in the south of
England and more in the north and west.
It may come as a surprise but London is drier than Istanbul,
and the South East of England has less water available per person
than the Sudan and Syria.
All construction products have embodied water in them and the UK
concrete sector is doing all it can to minimise its impact on this
Embedded water refers to the amount of water required to
produce a product from start to finish. Embedded water is most
commonly used with reference to agricultural products but may be
applied to non-agricultural goods as well, such as construction
Therefore even your home has water embedded in it. Though no
studies have been done on homes in the UK, a 2004 study in
Australia estimated that a typical Australian house represents
about 15 years worth of operational water 15 years of water for
cooking, cleaning, washing, drinking, toilet flushing and gardening
all embedded within a single home 1.
This study estimated that a kilo of concrete has about two
litres of embedded water, a kilo of timber about 20 litres, a kilo
of steel about 40 litres, a kilo of aluminium about 88 litres, and
that a kilo of plastic has about 185 litres of embedded