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Brown-Forman

Water Risk for Sustainability Managers: An Example with Brown-Forman

Water Risk for Sustainability Managers: An Example with Brown-Forman

Water Risk for Sustainability Managers: An Example with Brown-Forman

We partnered with Waterplan to access granular, detailed, and centralized water risk data for informed decision-making. Their platform enables us to comprehensively analyze water usage, identify internal reuse and recycling opportunities, and plan effectively. While our initial focus is on internal efficiency operations, our next step is exploring collaborative opportunities externally within high-risk watersheds.”

We partnered with Waterplan to access granular, detailed, and centralized water risk data for informed decision-making. Their platform enables us to comprehensively analyze water usage, identify internal reuse and recycling opportunities, and plan effectively. While our initial focus is on internal efficiency operations, our next step is exploring collaborative opportunities externally within high-risk watersheds.”

We partnered with Waterplan to access granular, detailed, and centralized water risk data for informed decision-making. Their platform enables us to comprehensively analyze water usage, identify internal reuse and recycling opportunities, and plan effectively. While our initial focus is on internal efficiency operations, our next step is exploring collaborative opportunities externally within high-risk watersheds.”

Andy Battjes

Director of Global Environmental Sustainability at Brown-Forman

Summary

Explore how Brown-Forman drives its water sustainability strategy through comprehensive water risk assessments in high-risk sites and water efficiency initiatives. Partnering with Waterplan, Brown-Forman addresses challenges like local water risk data collection and centralization, understanding local water risks and vulnerabilities, and developing a site-level water balance to identify suitable efficiency initiatives prioritizing water reuse and recycling. This collaboration has already yielded positive results, including streamlined local water risk data collection and analysis, enhanced decision-making alignment, and building the business case to reuse water at a site in Mexico with high scarcity risk. 


Summary

Explore how Brown-Forman drives its water sustainability strategy through comprehensive water risk assessments in high-risk sites and water efficiency initiatives. Partnering with Waterplan, Brown-Forman addresses challenges like local water risk data collection and centralization, understanding local water risks and vulnerabilities, and developing a site-level water balance to identify suitable efficiency initiatives prioritizing water reuse and recycling. This collaboration has already yielded positive results, including streamlined local water risk data collection and analysis, enhanced decision-making alignment, and building the business case to reuse water at a site in Mexico with high scarcity risk. 


Introduction

Brown-Forman, one of the world's leading global spirits and wine companies, recognizes water as a crucial component in its production processes and has integrated it into its sustainability strategy. By 2030, Brown-Forman is committed to achieving water balance in its high-risk and business-critical watersheds

“We define water balance as returning to the local watershed a volume equivalent to what we consume in our production processes either through internal efficiency or external collaborative projects,” said Andy Battjes, Director of Global Environmental Sustainability at Brown-Forman.

Andy Battjes leads the implementation of their sustainability strategy across the global value chain, with a strong focus on water stewardship. With nearly three decades of experience in environmental compliance and sustainability, Andy brings invaluable expertise to the company's sustainability initiatives.

Brown-Forman partnered with Waterplan to regularly assess water risks and develop and track a risk mitigation plan to achieve its water goal by 2030. This ensures business continuity and informs their water initiatives.

Waterplan’s technology is leveraged to:

  • Measure water risks through a comprehensive two-step process:

    1. A water risk screening is done across all sites to identify internal and external risks.

    2. In high-risk sites, an in-depth assessment with risk scenario modeling is done in collaboration with site leaders to determine the value at risk and build a business case for investment.

  • Respond to water risks, where a thoughtful strategy is considered. The risk mitigation plan prioritizes improving a site's water efficiencies and reducing water consumption. This approach minimizes the investment required for external water replenishment projects at sites where efficiency measures are already in place.

The partnership is ongoing, and some steps have yet to be completed for all facilities.


Water risk management using a SaaS platform

Water risk screening & prioritization

Conducting a water risk assessment is crucial to making informed water management decisions at various sites. This involves analyzing external water risks that facilities face, such as scarcity and quality, and assessing their vulnerabilities to these risks, which requires understanding how well prepared the facilities are to manage them.

However, this assessment is often challenging due to the need to gather and analyze multiple external and internal local data sources, stakeholder engagement, and specialized water expertise to interpret data within business and local watershed contexts. 

Waterplan's platform provides the solution by consolidating and analyzing external water risk dimensions alongside Brown-Forman's vulnerabilities at each location. This includes external local data on water availability, quality, flooding, infrastructure, and regulatory dynamics, combined with internal data like current water initiatives, water consumption, and discharges. This approach enhances data reliability and streamlines the analysis, enabling Brown-Forman to prioritize high-risk sites.

High-risk sites deep dives

Based on the prioritization order, an in-depth assessment is conducted for high-risk facilities. The initial analysis site in Midwest Mexico faces escalating water scarcity due to irregular rainfall patterns and increased freshwater withdrawal. These factors disrupt the local aquifer’s water balance, resulting in elevated costs and stricter withdrawal regulations.

Given the site's risk and context, risk scenarios around water availability were modeled using Waterplan’s technology to calculate the business value at risk. This entailed doing a sensibility analysis based on “worst,” “medium,” and “best” scenarios, varying a series of parameters (volume of water available, volume of water permits, and internal efficiencies) that could affect production. 

Moreover, a comprehensive site water balance was developed to enable Brown-Forman to track water consumption and discharges and identify new areas of opportunity for water efficiency improvement based on historical water use trend analysis. 

Identifying risk mitigation opportunities & developing an action plan

Waterplan’s team of water experts worked together with Brown-Forman’s corporate and local teams to propose recommendations to mitigate the scarcity risk in Mexico’s site and develop an action plan to achieve them, including:

  • Building the business case for a post-treatment facility to maximize the internal reuse of water. This facility can treat the wastewater and separate it based on how it can be reused, helping reduce water scarcity's medium and long-term impacts.

  • Implementing advanced water metering technologies for accurate measurement of water usage. With more granular data, Brown-Forman can identify leaks or inefficiencies in the system, better informing decision making.

  • Establishing regular, thorough audits of water usage processes to identify areas where teams can reduce water consumption.

Brown-Forman accepted the recommendations and is in the process of building these recommendations into a site-level water stewardship strategy.

This process will be conducted for other high-risk sites following the company’s prioritization order.

Moving forward, once the opportunities for efficiencies in all high-risk sites have been identified and implemented, the next challenge for Brown-Forman and Waterplan is to assess opportunities for collaborative replenishment initiatives.


Takeaways

This collaboration showcases the role of technology, comprehensive water data, and water expertise in better water risk management. Through this partnership, Brown-Forman has achieved significant results, including the ability to better measure water consumption, implement initiatives to reduce water scarcity impact in high-risk sites, and engage regional and local teams in the process. This proactive approach propels Brown-Forman towards its sustainability objectives and sets a compelling example for the beverage industry, emphasizing the importance of sustainable water management practices.

Brown-Forman mentioned the partnership and results achieved with Waterplan in their 2023 integrated annual report

Watch this virtual discussion with Andy and our senior water advisors to learn more about Brown-Forman’s adoption of circular economy practices.

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© 2024 Climateplan Inc. All rights reserved

2193 Fillmore St, San Francisco CA 94115

© 2024 Climateplan Inc. All rights reserved

2193 Fillmore St, San Francisco CA 94115

© 2024 Climateplan Inc. All rights reserved