This month, India announced that it plans to become the first nation to certify “blue ratings” for commercial and industrial water use. The “blue rating” was conceived as a partner to the green labels and carbon footprint ratings that have become increasingly common as commercial and industrial agencies come to terms with the importance of appearing to conscientiously manage the natural resources essential to the products and services they deliver to their customers.
Acting on a request by the Union Ministry of Water Resources, the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) has agreed to “frame guidelines for increasing water efficiency in Indian industries.” The hope is that these guidelines will be set by March of 2013 (www.indolink.com/displayArticleS.php?id=052012103414).
The blue ratings will be awarded by Triveni Water Institute—a joint venture of CII and the Rajasthan government—in Jaipur, India. Officials believe these water efficiency efforts announce the country’s intention to lead the way in water resource management.
“As far as I know, India will be the first country to come up with water ratings for industry. There have been people across the world doing something, but none has so far come up with anything like this,” S. Raghupathy, executive director, CII, who is heading the project, told the Indo-Asian News Service (IANS).
The CII has a history of promoting intelligent water resource management. In November of last year, the CII organized Water Conclave 2011 in an attempt to “focus on various water related issues and suggest possible solutions.” The CII also presents an annual award recognizing Excellence in Water Management. The award is bestowed upon companies that have assumed a “leadership role in implementing water and watershed management projects.”
The CII has already begun establishing benchmarks on which to base India’s blue ratings. First up will be a focused analysis of three major water resource management issues: reducing the consumption of water within India’s industry, calculating the water footprint totals of the products manufactured in India, and determining the relative contributions different products and services make to Indian society as a hole. The hope is that the blue ratings will promote water conservation and reduce total water consumption by 20–25% over the next three to four years. There is also some possibility of adding extra incentives based on the blue ratings received by Indian commercial interests as a way to encourage water efficiency and conservation. Eventually, the blue ratings will be expanded to include other water-intensive activities and organizations.
“Initially, we are coming up with standards for industry, but it can be implemented in cities, buildings, housing societies, and by civic authorities,” Raghupathy, told IANS.
All in all, the blue ratings are being conceptualized as another sustainability tool, able to stand alongside carbon footprints and LEED certification.
A senior official from the Indian Ministry of Water Resources summed up the situation IANS saying, “We talk about green buildings, why can’t we have blue buildings? In fact, we took this concept to the CII to develop water standards for industry. More and more, people talk about carbon neutral buildings, and we are looking at water-neutral buildings.”
“In India, about 80 to 85% of water is used for irrigation, industry uses 5 to 6%, and drinking water is 6%. In next 10 years, the industry usage of water will go up to 10% if we maintain the same growth. So, we need some awareness in industry,” he added.