Yorkshire Water is in a better position to measure the environmental impact of its operations after becoming the first water company to put a cost on them.
The Bradford-based utility business has developed an environmental profit and loss account (EP&L) which puts a monetary value on both the positive and negative environmental impact of its operations.
Yorkshire Water says the move will help it to integrate sustainability into its core business strategy and enable it to better manage the challenges posed by climate change, scare resources and a growing population.
The account was created in partnership with Trucost, a leading global natural capital valuation company.
The company says overcoming environmental challenges and achieving its vision will require new ways of thinking and working within Yorkshire Water and its parent, the Kelda Group.
It wanted to investigate the potential of natural capital valuation to deliver insights for its 25-year corporate strategy, Blueprint for Yorkshire, which is based on business objectives, including providing safe water, sustainable water resources and excellent rivers, catchments and coasts.
Yorkshire Water, which manages the collection, treatment and distribution of water and provides services to 5.3 million people and 130,000 businesses, says the EP&L has provided it with a single view of all of the environmental impacts of its activities – helping it to easily identify and manage its most significant environmental risks and opportunities.
It gave the company an insight into water abstraction and identified opportunities to improve the long-term sustainability of its water network by highlighting local water scarcity levels at abstraction and recharge sites.
Information from the EP&L has been used to inform discussions with water regulator Ofwat and the Environment Agency over water resources and how to strike the right balance between ensuring future supplies at a fair price while protecting the environment.
Simon Barnes, Yorkshire Water programme director, has the account details on his iPad and uses it to engage with companies in the supply chain.
He said: “It provides a fast view of our environmental impacts that can be easily understood by everyone, from suppliers, customers and regulators to our own board members and business managers. Key to its success is its ability to highlight risks and opportunities that drive our long term business strategy, and is key to the delivery of our strategic business objectives.”
Richard Mattison, Trucost chief executive, said: “Yorkshire Water has shown tremendous leadership in using natural capital valuation as a practical business tool.”