Hand in hand with the travel and hospitality industries, GROHE’s cost-efficient products are rolling back the water shortage crisis.

Drinking water is running out. By 2030, global demand is expected to outstrip supply by 40 percent, and many rivers and lakes are drying up. Currently, 1.1 billion people lack access to water, and only one percent of all water consumed is fresh. The problem is critical, and the United Nations (UN) is responding by introducing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs are a set of targets drawn up by the UN which its members are expected to use as a framework for their policies. This, in turn, will have an impact on businesses. One goal concerns water, stating that countries should “ ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. This includes the provision of clean drinking water, water resources management, water conservation and strengthening local communities’ involvement in conserving water.”

The causes of global water shortages are complex, ranging from climate change to urbanisation and population increase. As a result, the solutions are diverse, and although governments and multinational organisations have a responsibility to tackle it, so do individuals.

Indeed, many people are aware of this but struggle to implement changes in their daily life. Media images of droughts may prompt donations to charity, but few ordinary people will immediately associate these disasters with their visits to an infinity pool or a leaking faucet.

Conscious of this dilemma, GROHE, the world’s leading manufacturer of sanitary fittings, are integrating sustainability into their business. “It’s present in every aspect of our corporate structure,” says GROHE executive Thomas Fuhr. “It determines everything we do, from product development to manufacturing and logistics as well as use and disposal.”

One of GROHE’s biggest customers is the hospitality industry. According to a recent study by the Malta Business Bureau, 365 trillion litres of water could be saved by the EU’s hotel business every year. The problem represents an area in which, by reducing their water consumption, hotels can also improve cost efficiency.

And by focussing on this issue and staying true to their commitment to high quality design, GROHE has been working with many of the world’s leading hotel brands to help deliver the results they need. One case in point is luxury Danish hostel chain, Danhostel, whose Copenhagen city location recently swapped its older fittings and showerheads for water saving, environmentally-friendly ones made by GROHE. And the results speak for themselves: water usage was reduced from 13 to 5.8 litres of water per minute.

Prior to this, Danhostel Copenhagen City underwent a GROHE Water and Energy Check to see how much water and money it could save by switching to environmentally friendly fittings. For companies with reservations about making such improvements, it’s a tangible way of demonstrating their products’ potential.

One of these is the Powerbox – an electronic faucet that uses its water flow to drive a turbine concealed in a small box below the basin, which then powers the faucet’s infrared function. “Just 60 seconds of running water creates enough energy to power the faucet for 24 hours,” says Fuhr.

One hospitality business that takes environmental considerations seriously is the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. Inge Huijbrechts, vice president for responsible business, points to many stepsher organisation has taken to ensure long-term water sustainability, both for its hotels and for the wider environment. This has included signing up to the UN CEO mandate, which engages businesses on issues that impact water sustainability.

Take the group’s Radisson Blu hotels, for instance. According to Huijbrechts, “Radisson Blu focusses on water mindfulness across the brand. We are working with GROHE products for the showers and faucets because they combine stylish design and water efficiency. For example installing the latest rainshowers can save 80 litres per shower or 8 million litres per year in an average 250-room hotel.“


The travel industry around the world is also taking action. Travelife, founded in 1992, is one of its established sustainability charities, providing information to hospitality franchises and travel companies about how to implement water saving measures, from pool maintenance to the use of water-efficient sanitation and laundry services.

And today, sustainability isn’t just a matter of being eco-friendly or making savings – with increased reporting on pollution it’s vital that businesses promotetheir efforts.

“Access to clean water is becoming an increasing issue in many countries around the world,” says Travelife Commercial Director Sören Stöber. His organisation provides an internationally recognised sustainability certification scheme, helping companies prove their credentials, and currently has 1,500 approved members in 56 countries including those run by major tour operators such as TUI and Thomas Cook.

To receive Travelife certification, hotels must pass an extensive checklist, featuring 20 criteria specifically relating to water usage. From administration to proper documentation and sanitation management, these checks are there so that when a holidaymaker stays in a Travelife-approved hotel, they know it’s not wasting water.

Green Key international is the world’s biggest eco-label, with over 2,400 hotels in 50 countries. Working with Green Key means that hotels’ sustainability practices are vetted externally and that hotels can communicate effectively to guests about their environmental performance.

Carlson Rezidor has been a Green Key partner since 2009. Huijbrechts says: “There’s a myriad of eco labels for hotels out there. We have chosen to work with a not-for-profit to ensure the focus is on the positive environmental impact and not on the profits of the certifying body. Having a third party audit is essential to ensure that the stated activities are actually being implemented and to help the hotels to continuously improve their environmental performance.“

It is also a member of the working group that is currently defining the Hotel Water Measurement Tool, as part of the InternationalTourism Partnership along with KPMG and other members. This tool will develop consistent methods of measuring, reporting on and managing water usage.


One concern for hotels and travel companies keen to adopt water sustainability is how to implement it without jeopardising customer experience. For Jeanette Birkedal from Danhostel Copenhagen City, the strength of GROHE’s products lies in their ability to deliver efficiency without losing quality.

“The best thing about our new shower heads is that we save water and money and deliver the same great service to the people that stay with us,” she says. “As they take a shower, our guests won’t be aware that we’ve reduced our water usage by over 50 percent, yet this has a very real impact on our budgets and on the environment.”

The secret of why GROHE’s shower heads and hoses are able to deliver such a reduction in wastage is due to their innovative design: by pumping both water and air, they deliver the same feeling as an old water-inefficient shower and cut down the amount of liquid they use.

Moreover, such improvements don’t just have an immediate effect – they’re alsohelping to shape long term sustainability. As such, the issue of wastage isn’t just significant for individual companies, but for the future vitality of trade and industry. And that affects everyone, because without workers, jobs and services, entire infrastructures are at risk.

Today, the situation is improving. The UN is helping by expecting its members to implement the SDGs, and sustainable travel NGOs are working to help the hospitality and travel industries adopt safer practices that won’t damage their businesses. And of course, GROHE is working with its customers to provide products that will facilitate this. But from top to bottom, there’s still more to do.

Not only should tourists ensure their accommodation meets sustainability standards, they should also consider with their personal habits. Holidaymakers are sometimes known for burdening local supplies. A 2012 report by charity Tourism Concern reported that tourists in Zanzibar used 16 times more fresh water than locals. Yet by remembering to turn off taps, report leaks and bringing bottled water on trips, visitors can have a positive impact while enjoying their holiday.

Hotels are advised to tackle the problem from more than one angle: Signing up to accreditation schemes is one step, but training is also important.

By equipping staff with knowledge of how to spot problems and deal with incidents, they can embed best practice into the running of their premises. And by staying to up to date with latest water saving technology, they can prevent wastage, make savings and build the reputation of their brand.

To this extent, design is also critical. While it’s common sense that customers want products that look good and provide an excellent service, sustainability must be considered at every stage. Fittings that are aesthetically pleasing but do not reduce waste are a threat to business. Manufacturers such as GROHE have been leading the way in this regard, and when their products are part of a system that includes water efficient plumbing and heating, the benefits can be significant.


“We believe in the power of water,” says Fuhr. “We work to create products that celebrate and conserve it.” And by embracing that attitude, individuals, businesses and governments can transform the current water shortage crisis into a chapter from history.