The Regional Sustainability Initiative works with companies across Waterloo Region to empower them to meet their sustainability goals. We collaborate with organizations like yours to set voluntary targets to reduce your greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, waste and water impacts as well as increase your waste diversion. 

Every organization’s sustainability journey is unique. Our milestones provide a customized approach for organizations of varying sizes and industries. So follow along with our Target Setting blog post series and learn how our members set and achieve sustainability targets.

Are you a business curious about setting a Water target?

In this second post of the series, we’re diving through the process of setting Water Targets in the Regional Sustainability Initiative. To begin, your organization will identify and target up to 3 focus areas of greatest water impact. We will then support your organization with the collection of 3 years of baseline data for each focus area. 

Focus areas include:

Tap Water Consumption: the amount of water that enters a building typically through tap water from local utilities or water drawn from wells. 

Wastewater: the amount of water that leaves a building typically through PVC pipes.

Stormwater: estimated amount of water that runs off all impermeable surfaces on your property such as rooftops and parking lots, and enters the stormwater infrastructure.

The stormwater focus area considers the entire square footage of impermeable surfaces. This area typically dominates an organization’s water footprint, making up, on average, about 70-95% of the total. In this area, we can explore management options that capture and redirect stormwater into the ground or that divert stormwater through projects such as bio swales, rain gardens and green roofs. For members that lease a space, stormwater can be a more challenging focus area. This is why we offer our members the flexibility to report on one or more of these variables which can help them focus their impact reductions to meet the needs of their operations. 

When finalizing your water target, your organization will also select either an absolute target or an intensity-based target:

Absolute targets: focus on the total water amounts from an organization.

Intensity-based targets are specified objectives that express an organization’s water amounts per unit of a particular growth factor or area of output. Intensity metric examples for water targets can include: water impact per FTE, water impact per resident etc.

Absolute targets account for the overall water impacts of an organization, while intensity-based targets focus on particular measures of water impacts based on the chosen growth factor.

Ready to set a target?

Using the 3 year of water impact baseline data collected, we will create realistic and ambitious target scenarios for your review. Members pledge a reduction commitment over a 10-year target period as a Pledging Partner. Pledging Partners sign a non-binding agreement to affirm their commitments and are assigned a Pledge Level of Bronze, Silver or Gold. Our framework categorizes these levels based on the percentage of commitment to reducing your current or baseline water impact data, which is outlined below:

Water Target*10%20%30%

*Note: The percentages differ for GHG Targets and Waste Targets. See other series’ posts for details.

Getting started with targeted reduction projects:

Once your pledged target is finalized, taking the first step towards reductions can feel overwhelming. Be sure to check out “The Idea Book” – a member-only resource that provides over 300+ inspirational reduction projects as well as references to other members who have completed similar projects. In addition, our reporting framework offers annual reporting of progress against targets as well as tailored recommendations on how to further reduce emissions. 

Current Pledging Partners:

Throughout the 10-year pledge Sustainable Waterloo Region provides ongoing support, coaching and resources to assist with your reduction plan. There are currently 3 Pledging Partners actively working towards water reduction pledges. Throughout their sustainability journey, we celebrate successes and achievements. 

Whether you are an up-and-coming rookie, an inspiring sustainability leader or somewhere in-between, our initiative acknowledges members by featuring their stories and latest projects on our blogs, social media accounts, or in our annual report where target-hitters are announced!

Here are our most ambitious Pledging Partners and their water targets to get you inspired:

Waterloo North Hydro Inc logo

Gold Pledging Level 

Stantec logo

Silver Pledging Level

AET logo

Bronze Pledging Level 

Together, these members reduced a total of 7,931m³ of water in their facilities to date!

Interested in learning more? Check out “Water, Waste & GHG’s: Setting targets with the Regional Sustainability Initiative a webinar on the target setting process hosted on March 24th at 10am.