Proposals for minimum standards of water efficiency in new homes and commercial buildings in England and Wales have been published.

The proposals are set out in a joint consultation between Defra and Communities and Local Government (CLG), which meets government ministers' commitment to underpin the voluntary water efficiency standards established in the Code for Sustainable Homes.

“Protecting the long term sustainability of the water supply needs joined up action from Government, businesses, water companies and consumers,” explained Climate Change and Environment Minister Ian Pearson. “These proposals are not about cutting back on the essential water we need, but minimising the water we needlessly waste. They will support the wider programme of efficiency measures under consideration by the Water Saving Group. “Setting minimum standards for new buildings will not deliver all the savings we need to make, but will provide a strong signal to consumers and to manufacturers of water appliances, fixtures and fittings that they have a role as part of that joined up action, and that we all have a responsibility to find ways of using water wisely.” CLG Minister for Sustainable Buildings Angela Smith believes simple, cost effective steps can help reduce water demand.

“This is an important step in transforming the way we use water in the home and the workplace,” she said. “By installing products such as low flush toilets and water efficient taps in new homes we could reduce household consumption by 15 to 20%. There will be equivalent savings in new offices and shops from reductions in the everyday uses of water there. “These are relatively cheap and effective ways to reduce water demand. These regulations will ensure that water efficiency becomes the norm in all new homes and workplaces.”

The consultation will last for 12 weeks and will close on 9 March 2007.