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
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
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
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
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