Sustainable Engineering

Conceptual development of the water footprint to map possible qualitative and quantitative water pollution along a product life cycle

Project description

Germany is a water-rich country in which on average only 13% (25 billion m³) of renewable water resources are used. In addition to the direct use of water in Germany, water is also used abroad for the production of products and goods imported into Germany. By importing water-intensive products from abroad, Germany is contributing to increased water demand and pollution of water resources abroad.

The water footprint maps the direct and indirect water consumption for the manufacture of a product or the provision of a service. Information on water footprints communicated to the public does not always reflect the environmental impacts of water consumption, but is mostly limited to the quantification of green and blue water footprints.

So far, however, no approach is known that is suitable for determining a target value for a water footprint as an indicator for sustainable water use. One use case would be the evaluation of German resource use within the German resource efficiency program ProgRess. ProgRess aims to make the extraction and use of natural resources more sustainable and to contribute to safeguarding the natural foundations of life for future generations. The use of natural resources abroad caused by German imports has not yet been viewed comprehensively.

This project is intended to contribute to the development of accounting methods to better quantify, evaluate and compare not only the direct and indirect use of water resources in Germany, but also the environmental impacts and resource consumption in third countries.

Client: Federal Environment Agency (UBA)

Duration 08/2019 – 07/2021

Topics: Water footprint, sustainable production and consumption

M.Sc. Jonas Bunsen
Tel: +49 (0)30 314-28453
E-mail: jonas.bunsen(at)