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January 23, 2009
Center for Sustainable Innovation Develops Tool for Measuring Sustainable Water Use
    by Robert Kropp

Corporate Water Gauge allows organizations to place water use in a local context for sustainability reporting.

While corporate sustainability reporting has embraced a framework that accounts for economic, environmental and social performance, international standards such as those developed by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) do not emphasize a sustainability context in which local factors are fully addressed.

As defined by the Center for Sustainable Innovation (CSI), a Vermont-based non-profit institute dedicated to the practice of organizational sustainability, the sustainability context refers to "how an organization contributes to the improvement or deterioration of economic, environmental, and social conditions at the local, regional, or global level."

The most recent tool developed by CSI is the Corporate Water Gauge, which provides a context in which to measure the sustainability of organizational water use. Based on the quotients approach to sustainability measurement and reporting developed by CSI, the Corporate Water Gauge measures rate of use against rate of renewable supply to determine sustainability performance.

The Corporate Water Gauge takes local context into account by making use of advanced geographic information systems (GIS) to measure water use in terms of organizational headcount, local community size, local watersheds, and local renewable water resource levels. By using the Corporate Water Gauge, organizations can express sustainable water use in per-capita terms.

The use of the Corporate Water Gauge is intended to help organizations realize such key principles of sustainability as the preservation of surface and groundwater resources, and the balancing of human use of water resources with ecological considerations.


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