Water Usage

Bibliography on Declining Usage in Community Water Systems

Institute of Public Utilities Regulatory Research and Education


Janice Beecher and Matt Syal




Change in Residential End Uses of Water: 1999 and 2016

Usage per household REU1999

Gallons per day)


Gallons per day



Toilet 45.2 33.1 -27%
Clothes/washer 39.3 22.7 -42%
Shower 30.8 28.1 -9%
Faucet 26.7 26.3 -1%
Leak 21.9 17 -22%
Other 7.4 5.3 -28%
Bath 3.2 3.6 13%
Dishwasher 2.4 1.6 -33%
Total -19%


Usage per capita


Gallons per day


Gallons per day



Toilet 18.5 14.2 -23%
Clothes/washer 15 9.6 -36%
Shower 11.6 11.1 -4%
Faucet 10.9 11.1 2%
Leak 9.5 7.9 -17%
Other 1.6 2.5 56%
Bath 1.2 1.5 25%
Dishwasher 1 0.7 -30%
Total -3%

Source: Water Research Foundation, Residential End Uses of Water, 1999 and 2016. http://www.awwa.org/portals/0/files/resources/water%20knowledge/rc%20water%20conservation/residential_end_uses_of_water.pdf



Declining Water Sales


Aubuchon, C. P., and J. A. Roberson. 2012. “Price Perception and Nonprice Controls under Conservation Rate Structures.” Journal AWWA 104, no. 8: 33. [link]

Abstract: “This research evaluates the effect of price and nonprice conservation controls on monthly water system demand and explores differences in rate design, education and outreach programs, population growth, and regional climate variables among a national cross section of utilities. Using the Shin price perception parameter, this study found that under conservation rate structures, aggregate demand was related to something other than marginal or average price. The price–demand response increases with higher levels of consumption for both the marginal price and the total bill, which may provide preliminary evidence that the price signal of the total bill matters for demand. Nonprice controls were not found to be statistically significant in the study sample. Income elasticities were positive and slightly larger in magnitude than price elasticities, suggesting that over the long term, utility managers may need to increase rates faster than regional income growth for effective demand management.”


Beecher, J. A. 2010. “The Conservation Conundrum: How Declining Demand Affects Water Utilities.” Journal AWWA 102, no. 2: 78-80. [link]

Abstract: “This article discusses the significant financial challenge that utilities face in the rising infrastructure costs that must be recovered from a shrinking sales base. Fortunately, strategic coping methods are available such as forecasting, scenario-building, and planning. Utility plans should incorporate long-term goals and performance metrics as well as prudent investment strategies based on changing demand patterns. Cost recovery should recognize expenditures for cost-effective investments in efficiency, and regulators can provide additional incentives as appropriate. As long as costs and demand continue to shift, more frequent rate adjustments will help reduce lag and ensure that rates are properly aligned with costs. Forward- looking rates can be established by using a “future test year” for revenues. A demand-repression adjustment may be needed to recognize the effects of programs and prices on forecast use. Utilities will also need to examine rate-design options and assess whether they exacerbate or mitigate revenue volatility, uncertainty, and distributional consequences.”


Beecher, J. A. 2012. “The Ironic Economics and Equity of Water Budget Rates.” Journal AWWA 104, no. 2: 41-42. [link]

Abstract: “Water budget rates are gaining attention in the water sector. Although clearly well-intended, the water budget approach to rates raises serious theoretical and practical issues familiar to applied regulatory economics. In essence, water budget rates exemplify “social rate-making,” that is, a system of pricing that departs from traditional economic standards in the interest of serving social goals—in this case water conservation. The inherent problem with this particular rate structure, however, is not its good intentions but its disconcerting implications. The troubling irony of water budget rates appears to be lost in the deliberation.


Beecher, J. A., and T. W. Chestnut. 2012. “Declining Water Sales and Utility Revenues: A Framework for Understanding and Adapting.” Alliance for Water Efficiency. [link]

Abstract: “The scenario is becoming all too familiar. Utility managers see falling water sales and falling revenues. Rates must be raised simply to maintain revenues, but rate increases are also needed to pay for the rising cost of infrastructure replacement and improvement. Higher rates might even induce a price response in the form of further declines in usage (shifts along the demand curve).1 The effects of economic recession make matters worse, particularly for areas experiencing declines in service population and economic activity (shifts in the entire demand curve). As water price increases outstrip overall inflation, boards of directors and water customers alike are balking at successive and high rate increases. Promoting water conservation in this context seems illogical at best and self-destructive at worst. In a twist of distorted incentives, the water manager may even hope for drought. Infrastructure-intensive public utilities face a serious “conservation conundrum”2in that socially beneficial efficiency appears contrary to their financial self-interest, particularly in the short run. The combination of rising costs and falling sales is a potential recipe for revenue shortfalls and fiscal distress. What is a water manager or rate regulator to do?


Buchberger, S., T. Omaghomi, T. Wolfe, J. Hewitt, and D. Cole. 2015. “Peak Water Demand Study: Probability Estimates for Efficient Fixtures in Single and Multi-family Residential Buildings.” [link]


Chesnutt, T. W., G. Fiske, J. A. Beecher, and D. M. Pekelney. 2007. Water Efficiency Programs for Integrated Water Management. Water Research Foundation. [link]

Executive Summary: “Water utilities have increasingly come to appreciate the value of water use efficiency (WUE) for accomplishing their long-term mission of providing a safe and reliable potable water supply. The importance of water efficiency goes well beyond the short-term measures invoked to respond to drought emergencies, and is much broader in scope. Improved water-use efficiency is seen as a viable complement to – and in some instances, a substitute for – investments in long-term water supplies and infrastructure. This understanding of water efficiency includes outdoor as well as indoor WUE, nonresidential water customers as well as residential customers, and utility delivery efficiency as well as end use efficiency. At the heart of the new understanding of water efficiency is an economic standard: a good WUE program produces a level of benefits that exceed the costs required to undertake the program.”


Coomes, P., T. Rockaway, J. Rivard, and B. Kornstein. 2009. North America Residential Water Usage Trends Since 1992. Water Research Foundation. [link]

Conclusion: “This research documents a pervasive trend toward lower water usage per household. The magnitude of the decline is consistent across North American utilities and is confirmed by more detailed data provided by the study’s 11 partner utilities, although there were annual variations due to regional factors. The results of the study’ statistical models identify the magnitude of both positive and negative forces affecting water usage. The decline in number of residents per household is clearly an important factor in falling water consumption per residential customer. However, the negative consequences of smaller households appears to be more than offset by the positive consequences of higher household incomes. Higher incomes have led to larger homes, with more water-using appliances, and more landscape irrigation. Thus, the net decline in water usage per household appears to be due to the steady penetration of low-flow appliances over the past 20 years. The end-use study found that low-flow appliances and changing household demographics accounted for a 16 percent reduction in average household water use in 2007, as compared to 1990… The steady decline in usage per household has important financial-planning consequences for water utility companies, as infrastructure is spread over more housing units using less water than before. The data compiled in this research are intended to assist utilities in developing realistic management plans that take into account the primary causes of declining residential water usage. The data provide a tool for projecting residential water usage in light of utility-specific trends. Utilities serving communities with growth in single-occupant households are likely to see erosion in revenues per household. Additionally, new federal regulations governing water-conserving appliances and fixtures further indicate that residential water usage will continue to decline as newer homes make up a larger component of the housing stock. Utilities may find it useful to track persons per household in addition to number of households as they plan infrastructure and set rates… Although the rate of decline may slow, there is no indication that national household-size trends will reverse. Also, new and existing federal regulations will prompt further penetration of water-conserving appliances.”


Dalhuisen, J. M., R. J. G. M. Florax, H. L. F. de Groot, and P. Nijkamp. 2003. “Price and Income Elasticities of Residential Water Demand: A Meta-Analysis.” Land Economics 79, no. 2: 292-308. [link]

Abstract: “This article presents a meta-analysis of variations in price and income elasticities of residential water demand. Meta-analysis constitutes an adequate tool to synthesize research results by means of an analysis of the variation in empirical estimates reported in the literature. We link the variation in estimated elasticities to differences in theoretical microeconomic choice approaches, differences in spatial and temporal dynamics, as well as differences in research design of the underlying studies. The occurrence of increasing or decreasing block rate systems turns out to be important. With respect to price elasticities, the use of the discrete-continuous choice approach is relevant in explaining observed differences.”


Danielson, L. E. 1979. “An Analysis of Residential Demand for Water Using Micro Time-Series Data.” Water Resources Research 15, no. 4: 763-767. [link]

Abstract: “Residential water demand is estimated as a function of temperature, rainfall, house value, water price, and household size using monthly cross-section and time-series meter readings from 261 residential households in Raleigh, North Carolina, between May 1969 and December 1974. Tests for validity of assumptions are made, and a methodological approach is used that provides unbiased estimates of parameters and standard errors with data that exhibit serially correlated residuals. Demand relations are estimated for total residential, winter, and sprinkling demands. Sprinkling use per period per customer for each year is estimated by subtracting winter (November–April) from summer (May–October) use. Household size explained the largest proportion of the variation in the data. Estimated sprinkling demand was found to be highly responsive to changes in water price and the level of the climatic variables, while total residential demand and winter demand were less responsive to price changes.”


Declining Water Sales and Utility Revenues: A Framework for Understanding and Adapting. A report on a summit convened by the Alliance for Water Efficiency in Racine Wisconsin, August 29-31, 2012. [link]

“The Alliance for Water Efficiency successfully convened this summit of water rates experts at the Johnson Foundation at Wingspread on August 29 – 31, 2012. Twenty-five industry experts participated, along with five observers. The experts included rate setters, economists, regulators, utility executives, and advocates. The conversation was wide-ranging and productive. The summit itself entailed seven elements. It began with opening presentations that framed the conversation as one that far transcended economics alone, introducing political, regulatory, social, and communication context as well. It then addressed five different discussion topics: 1) How and why are water sales declining? 2) Are water utility revenues falling short of revenue requirements? 3) Do water utilities and the conservation community have a messaging problem? 4) What methods are available to repair revenues and improve fiscal stability? 5) What role do industry standards, practices, and policy reforms play? It concluded with a summary discussion of ways in which the thinking of the experts had shifted as a result of the summit conversation.”


DeOreo, W., P. Mayer, B. Dziegielewski, and J. Kiefer. 2016. Residential End Uses of Water, Version 2. Water Research Foundation.

Excerpt: “Single-family homes typically use the most water of any utility customer sector. The 23 utilities studied show a decline of 22 percent in average annual indoor household water use since WRF’s landmark 1999 study. Water providers should consider lower household water use when making future plans.”


Emmanuel, A. D., T. A. Mazzuchi, R. Soyer, and J. A. Roberson. 2014. “Urban Water Demand Forecasting: Review of Methods and Models.” Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management, vol. 140, Issue 2. [link]

Abstract: “This paper reviews the literature on urban water demand forecasting published from 2000 to 2010 to identify methods and models useful for specific water utility decision making problems. Results show that although a wide variety of methods and models have attracted attention, applications of these models differ, depending on the forecast variable, its periodicity and the forecast horizon. Whereas artificial neural networks are more likely to be used for short-term forecasting, econometric models, coupled with simulation or scenario-based forecasting, tend to be used for long-term strategic decisions. Much more attention needs to be given to probabilistic forecasting methods if utilities are to make decisions that reflect the level of uncertainty in future demand forecasts.”


Espey, Molly, J. Espey, and W. Douglass Shaw, 1997, “Price Elasticity of Residential Demand for Water: A Meta Analysis,” Water Resources Research, Vol. 33 (April):1369-1374. [link]

Abstract: “Meta-analysis is used to determine if there are factors that systematically affect price elasticity estimates in studies of residential water demand in the United States. An econometric model is estimated, using price elasticity estimates from previous studies as the dependent variable. Explanatory variables include functional form, cross-sectional versus time series, water price specification, rate structure, location, season, and estimation technique. Inclusion of income, rainfall, and evapotranspiration are all found to influence the estimate of the price elasticity. Population density, household size, and temperature do not significantly influence the estimate of the price elasticity. Pricing structure and season are also found to significantly influence the estimate of the price elasticity.”


Fenrick, S. A., and L. Getachew. 2012. “Estimation of the Effects of Price and Billing Frequency on Household Water Demand Using a Panel of Wisconsin Municipalities.” Applied Economics Letters 19, no. 4: 1373-1380. [link]

Abstract: “A demand function of residential water consumption is developed from a 1997 to 2006 panel of 200 Wisconsin water utilities. A double-log functional form is assumed and parameters are estimated using a random effects model. The results suggest that the price is inelastic yet negative and statistically significant and this elasticity response grows stronger as the marginal price level is increased. Additionally, the model reveals water savings due to monthly billing and also the annual water savings from technology adoption.”


Gaudin, S. 2007. “Effect of price information on residential water demand.” Journal of Applied Economics, vol 38, issue 4. [link]

Abstract: “Microeconomic theory predicts that people decrease consumption when price increases, the magnitude of the effect depending on price elasticity. The law of demand, however, implicitly assumes that consumers know prices, an assumption that is not always satisfied in markets with ex post billing. When prices are not transparent, elasticity estimates are potentially lower than their full information potential. Evidence of low price elasticity abounds in residential water demand studies, limiting the effectiveness and desirability of using price signals as a conservation tool. It is hypothesized that resident’s sluggish response to price is partly due to the absence of price information on water bills. Differences in the informational content of bills are documented for the first time on the basis of sample bills collected from 383 utilities across the USA. A standard aggregate water demand model is augmented with qualitative variables describing differences in billing information, allowing such variables to affect the intensity with which consumers respond to price signals. No evidence is found that non-price information items affect price elasticity but there is a statistically significant effect in the case of price-related information; in our sample, price elasticity increases by 30% or more when price information is given on the bill.”


Grafton, R. Q., M. B. Ward, H. To, and T. Kompas. 2011. “Determinants of Residential Water Consumption: Evidence and Analysis from a 10-Country Household Survey.” Water Resources Research 47, no. 8. [link]

Abstract: “Household survey data for 10 countries are used to quantify and test the importance of price and nonprice factors on residential water demand and investigate complementarities between household water-saving behaviors and the average volumetric price of water. Results show (1) the average volumetric price of water is an important predictor of differences in residential consumption in models that include household characteristics, water-saving devices, attitudinal characteristics and environmental concerns as explanatory variables; (2) of all water-saving devices, only a low volume/dual-flush toilet has a statistically significant and negative effect on water consumption; and(3) environmental concerns have a statistically significant effect on some self-reported water-saving behaviors. While price-based approaches are espoused to promote economic efficiency, our findings stress that volumetric water pricing is also one of the most effective policy levers available to regulate household water consumption.”


House-Peters, L. A., and H. Chang. 2011. “Urban Water Demand Modeling: Review of Concepts, Methods, and Organizing Principles.” Water Resources Research 47, no. 5. [link]


Abstract: “In this paper, we use a theoretical framework of coupled human and natural systems to review the methodological advances in urban water demand modeling over the past 3 decades. The goal of this review is to quantify the capacity of increasingly complex modeling techniques to account for complex human and natural processes, uncertainty, and resilience across spatial and temporal scales. This review begins with coupled human and natural systems theory and situates urban water demand within this framework. The second section reviews urban water demand literature and summarizes methodological advances in relation to four central themes: (1) interactions within and across multiple spatial and temporal scales, (2) acknowledgment and quantification of uncertainty, (3) identification of thresholds, nonlinear system response, and the consequences for resilience, and Alliance for Water Efficiency 20 (4) the transition from simple statistical modeling to fully integrated dynamic modeling. This review will show that increasingly effective models have resulted from technological advances in spatial science and innovations in statistical methods. These models provide unbiased, accurate estimates of the determinants of urban water demand at increasingly fine spatial and temporal resolution. Dynamic models capable of incorporating alternative future scenarios and local stochastic analysis are leading a trend away from deterministic prediction.”


Hummel, D., A. Lux. 2007. “Population decline and infrastructure: The case of the German water supply system.” Vienna Yearbook of Population Research 2007, p. 167-191. [link]

Abstract: “The dynamic interaction between population and water is usually discussed in the context of development issues in Third World countries, but rarely analyzed for northern, industrialized countries. Nevertheless, the improvement of a supply system’s ability to adapt to demographic changes poses challenges for industrialized countries as well, and generating knowledge for developing adequate solutions also implies new, intriguing tasks for demography. This article analyses the relationships between population decline and water infrastructure using Germany as a case study. After sketching the development of the debate on the correlation between population and problems of water supply, the most relevant demographic factors affecting the water infrastructure are described in general. The authors then identify the implications of demographic change for water demand and use on the one hand, and the resulting effects on technical networks and their economic basis on the other. Finally, approaches for solving the problems and possibilities for taking action are discussed.”


Hunter, M., K. Donmoyer, J. Chelius, and G. Naumick. 2011. “Declining Water Use Presents Challenges, Opportunities.” Opflow AWWA 37, no. 5: 18-20. [link]

Abstract: “For many North American utilities, residential water use has declined steadily for the last 20 years. In many locations, the trend has accelerated in the last decade. Several factors appear to contribute to declining household water use. The long-term trend could significantly affect the way utilities conduct their business and operations.”


Kenney, D. S. 2014. “Understanding Utility Disincentives to Water Conservation as a Means of Adapting to Climate Change Pressures.” Journal AWWA 106, no. 1: 36-46. [link]

Introduction: “Proponents of water conservation typically emphasize the environmental benefits of minimizing river development and streamflow depletions—but the case in favor of conservation is actually much broader and stronger. A primary consideration is financial; meeting demands through conservation is often dramatically cheaper (and less politically sensitive) than developing new supplies or reallocating water from agriculture to the municipal sector (Kenney et al, 2011). Additional environmental and financial savings can accrue from the resulting energy savings because the water sector is a major energy consumer (Kenney & Wilkinson, 2011). In fact, water conservation has become a core strategy in California’s energy conservation efforts, which are not only motivated by environmental and financial concerns, but also by the state’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (Spivy-Webber, 2011). In this case, the link between water conservation and climate change mitigation is explicit.


Kenney, D. S., C. Goemans. R. Klein, J. Lowrey, and L. Reidy. 2008. “Residential Water Demand Management: Lessons from Aurora, Colorado.” Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA), vol. 44, Issue 1, p. 192-207. [link]

Abstract: Residential water demand is a function of several factors, some of which are within the control of water utilities (e.g., price, water restrictions, rebate programs) and some of which are not (e.g., climate and weather, demographic characteristics). In this study of Aurora, Colorado, factors influencing residential water demand are reviewed during a turbulent drought period (2000-2005). Findings expand the understanding of residential demand in at least three salient ways: first, by documenting that pricing and outdoor water restriction policies interact with each other ensuring that total water savings are not additive of each program operating independently; second, by showing that the effectiveness of pricing and restrictions policies varies among different classes of customers (i.e., low, middle, and high volume water users) and between predrought and drought periods; and third, in demonstrating that real-time information about consumptive use (via the Water Smart Reader) helps customers reach water-use targets.


Klaiber, A.H., V.K. Smith, M. Kaminsky, and A. Strong. 2012. “Measuring Price Elasticities for Residential Water Demand with Limited Information. NBER Working Paper, No. 18293. [link]

Abstract: “This paper exploits the seasonal and annual changes in marginal prices for water to estimate the price elasticity of demand by residential households for water. It uses the changes in distributions of water using the census block group levels in response to changes in marginal prices of water for matched months across years. This strategy reduces the interaction effects of outdoor use and demographic fact in determining responsiveness to price. By comparing years that vary in overall water availability the framework can recover measures of how responses to price vary with season and draught conditions. The application is the urban Phoenix metropolitan area.”


Krause, K., J. M. Chermak, and D. S. Brookshire. 2003. “The Demand for Water: Consumer Response to Scarcity.” Journal of Regulatory Economics 23, no. 2: 167-91. [link]

Abstract: “Provision of water raises several issues for municipal utility companies and other suppliers, including reliability of supply in and regions or during droughts, equity issues that arise because water is literally a necessity, and heterogeneity in consumer response to regulatory policy. We combine experimental and survey responses to investigate demand for water. The experiments simulate water consumption from a potentially exhaustible source, revealing heterogeneous demand for water. We estimate econometrically water demand for different consumer groups. A regulator could use estimates of disaggregated demand to attain conservation goals by designing an incentive compatible pricing system. The example given achieves a conservation goal while minimizing enforcement costs and welfare loss.”


Mayer, P., W. DeOreo, T. Chesnutt, D. Pekelney, and L. Summers. 2008. “Water Budgets and Rate Structures: Innovative Management Tools.” Journal AWWA 100, no. 5: 117-131. [link]

Abstract: “Water budgets, volumetric allotments of water to customers based on customer-specific characteristics and conservative resource standards, are an innovative means of improving water-use efficiency. Once thought to be impractical because of technological constraints, water budgets linked with an increasing-block rate structure have been implemented successfully by more than 20 utilities. Key issues identified in this examination of water budgets and their potential value to North American water utilities include: different practical approaches to water budget rate structures; the benefits and challenges of these approaches; the potential uses of water budgets during drought; and, important steps in the water budget implementation process.”


Mehan III, G. T., and I. Kline. 2012. “Pricing as a Demand-Side Management Tool: Implications for Water Policy and Governance.” Journal AWWA 104, no. 2: 61-66. [link]

Abstract: “Full-value or -cost pricing and conservation pricing as demand-side management tools are examined along with the benefits of maintaining responsive and transparent government and the benefits realized as a result of such practices.”


Merrett, S. 2004. “The Demand for Water: Four Interpretations.” Water International 29, no. 1: 27-29. [link]

Abstract: “The management of water resources draws on a wide range of disciplines and one of the most frequent terms used among these disciplines is the “demand” for water. In fact, this single word can have at least four quite distinct meanings: the use of water, the consumption of water, the need for water, or the economic demand for water. Each of these four separate terms is carefully defined in the paper in the context of the hydrosocial balance of a region. The paper recommends precisely defining these four terms (use, consumption, need, economic demand) is necessary to avoid the ambiguities and confusion in water resources management that can arise from the catch-all term “demand.” It is also indicated that to regard supply-side activities to reduce leakage and evaporation as a form of demand management is mistaken.”


Mieno, T., and J. B. Braden. 2011. “Residential Demand for Water in the Chicago Metropolitan Area.” Journal AWWA 47, no.4: 713-23. [link]

Abstract: “This paper provides the first contemporary analysis of residential water demand in humid Northeastern Illinois, in the vicinity of Chicago, and explores seasonal and income-based differentials in the responsiveness of water use to water prices. Using a panel of system-level data for eight water systems and controlling for seasons, weather, incomes, and community characteristics, the analysis yields low estimates of price elasticity of demand for water in line with other studies. Furthermore, price response is greater in summer and less in higher income communities. We suggest that use of seasonal pricing can help mitigate equity issues arising from differential income elasticities while taking advantage of the greater price responsiveness of summertime water use.”


Olmstead, S. M., and R. N. Stavins. 2007. “Managing Water Demand: Price vs. NonPrice Conservation Programs.” Pioneer Institute, vol. 39. [link]

Excerpt from conclusion: “Water management in the United States has typically been approached as an engineering problem, not an economic one. Water supply managers are often reluctant to use price increases as water conservation tools, instead relying on non-price demand management techniques. These include requirements for the adoption of specific technologies (such as lowflow fixtures) and restrictions on particular uses (such as lawn watering)… This paper has offered an analysis of the relative merits of price and non-price approaches to water conservation. On average, in the United States, a ten percent increase in the marginal price of water can be expected to diminish demand in the urban residential sector by about 3 to 4 percent. For the purpose of comparison, this average of hundreds of published water demand studies since 1960 is similar to averages reported for residential electricity and gasoline demand… Estimates of the water savings attributable to non-price demand management policies such as watering restrictions and low-flow fixture subsidies vary from zero to significant savings. These programs vary tremendously in nature and scope. More stringent mandatory policies (when well-enforced) tend to have stronger effects than voluntary policies and education programs.”


Olmstead, S.M., W. M. Hanemann, and R. N. Stavins. 2007. “Water Demand Under Alternative Price Structures.” Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, vol. 54, Issue 2, p. 181-198. [Link]

Abstract: “We estimate the price elasticity of water demand with household-level data, structurally modeling the piecewise-linear budget constraints imposed by increasing block pricing. We develop a mathematical expression for the unconditional price elasticity of demand under increasing block prices and compare conditional and unconditional elasticities analytically and empirically. We test the hypothesis that price elasticity may depend on price structure, beyond technical differences in elasticity concepts. Due to the possibility of endogenous utility price structure choice, observed differences in elasticity across price structures may be due either to a behavioral response to price structure, or to underlying heterogeneity among water utility service areas.”



Omaghomi, T., and S. Buchberger. 2014. “Estimating Water Demands in Buildings.” Procedia Engineering 89: 1013-1022. [link]

Abstract: “The 99th percentile of water demand during the peak period is often adopted to size the piping system in a building. Two new approaches for estimating peak water use are introduced. Both provide the cumulative distribution function (CDF) of water demand during the peak period. One approach uses full enumeration of all fixture options; the second employs Monte Carlo techniques. The Monte Carlo method generates a large ensemble of simulated design flows for a wide variety of fixture combinations. Results are displayed as a single curve on a universal dimensionless design chart applicable for any number and type of fixtures. An example demonstrates application of the new design chart.”


Qureshi, N., and J. Shah. 2014. “Aging Infrastructure and Decreasing Demand: A Dilemma for Water Utilities.” Journal AWWA 106, no. 1: 51-61. [link]

Introduction: “Most of the United States’ drinking water infrastructure is nearing the end of its useful life and will require a staggering public investment during the next 20 years. Water main replacement will cost more than $1 trillion by 2035. In Minnesota the estimated cost is $5.46 billion. Demand for water throughout the country has been decreasing, including in several Minnesota cities, which has resulted in a decrease in revenue. Rate increases or public subsidies will be needed.”


Rockaway, T. D., P. A. Coomes, J. Rivard, and B. Kornstein. 2011. “Residential Water Use Trends in North America.” Journal AWWA 103, no. 2: 76-89. [link]

Conclusion: “This research investigated trends in household water use in North America. When controlling for weather and other variables, the evident decline in residential use was pervasive among the national and regional components of the study. A household in the 2008 billing year used 11,678 gallons less water annually than an identical household did in 1978… To investigate the causes of this decline, a local study of statistically representative households of the LWC was conducted in Alliance for Water Efficiency 22 Louisville. Adjusting for weather, water use per LWC customer fell from 208 to 187 gpd between 1990 and 2007, a decline of 21 gallons. Data-logging devices were installed at participating homes, and the data were incorporated into statistical models to examine possible causes and the relationships among socioeconomic factors, demographic factors, water-using appliances, behavior patterns, significant water features and types of irrigation, and residential water consumption. Demographic factors can account for a decline of 5 gallons, whereas income-related factors suggest an increase of about 5.4 gallons. This study attributes the remaining estimated net decline, about 19 gpd, to the increased installation of low-flow appliances in the Louisville market.”


Romano, G., N. Salvati, and A. Guerrini. 2014. “Factors Affecting Water Utility Companies’ Decision to Promote the Reduction of Household Water Consumption.” Water Resources Management 28, no. 15: 5491-5505. [link]

Abstract: “The present paper investigates the factors affecting water utility companies’ decision to implement public information campaigns aimed at promoting sustainable water use and reducing household water consumption. We have analyzed 114 Italian water utility companies. For each we hand-collected data regarding their suggestions for reducing household water consumption and sustainable reporting information, published on the corporate websites. We then classified each utility on the basis of their ownership, diversification, location, sales, population served, tariff and annual rainfall. Using M-quantile regression for count data we have constructed a performance measure of Italian water utility companies and have ranked them by the identification of a unique M-quantile coefficient associated with each datum observed. The paper provides some interesting insights into the type of companies most sensitive to water sustainability issues, providing potential guidance to policy makers in defining a water management framework and selecting firms to manage water services. Larger firms located in the center of Italy, in drought regions and the driest areas, seem to be more sensitive to promoting the reduction of household water consumption. Moreover, companies operating only in the water business that are publicly owned and apply lower tariffs embody the type of institutions that make greater use of web information campaigns to reduce consumption.”


Standard & Poor’s. 2012. “From Droughts to Conservation: Water Can Have Big Effects on U.S. Municipal Utility Credit Quality.” Standard & Poor’s.

Overview: “Intense competition for potable water means that while water in most of the U.S. is not yet priced like a commodity, it could be, and sooner than many might think. Although conservation efforts affect utility financial risk profiles, they can be beneficial. Making the most of increasingly scarce federal funds for infrastructure renewal and prudent risk management, including raising rates as needed, will be vital for utilities to maintain credit quality.”


Qi, C., Chang, N. 2011. “System Dynamics Modeling for Municipal Water Demand Estimation in an Urban Region Under Uncertain Economic Impacts.” Journal of Environmental Management, vol. 92, issue 6. [link]

Abstract: “Accurate prediction of municipal water demand is critically important to water utilities in fast-growing urban regions for drinking water system planning, design, and water utility asset management. Achieving the desired prediction accuracy is challenging, however, because the forecasting model must simultaneously consider a variety of factors associated with climate changes, economic development, population growth and migration, and even consumer behavioral patterns. Traditional forecasting models such as multivariate regression and time series analysis, as well as advanced modeling techniques (e.g., expert systems and artificial neural networks), are often applied for either short- or long-term water demand projections, yet few can adequately manage the dynamics of a water supply system because of the limitations in modeling structures. Potential challenges also arise from a lack of long and continuous historical records of water demand and its dependent variables. The objectives of this study were to (1) thoroughly review water demand forecasting models over the past five decades, and (2) propose a new system dynamics model to reflect the intrinsic relationship between water demand and macroeconomic environment using out-of-sample estimation for long-term municipal water demand forecasts in a fast-growing urban region. This system dynamics model is based on a coupled modeling structure that takes into account the interactions among economic and social dimensions, offering a realistic platform for practical use. Practical implementation of this water demand forecasting tool was assessed by using a case study under the most recent alternate fluctuations of economic boom and downturn environments.”



Resources on water usage in homes/buildings


Buchberger, Omaghomi, Wolfe, Hewitt, and Cole. 2015. “Peak Water Demand Study, Probability Estimates for Efficient Fixtures in Single and Multi-family Residential Building.” American Society of Plumbing Engineers. [link]

Abstract: “The probabilistic method for determining peak water supply demand in building plumbing systems has historically been based on the Hunter Fixture Unit method as published in Methods of Estimating Loads on Plumbing Systems BMS65. As early as 1974, a US Commission identified the foremost national research need for water supply within buildings as the need for a long -range program to develop an improved computational method for the design and evaluation of water service and distribution systems in buildings. Studies had confirmed that in most building types, the application of Hunter’s method results in excessive over-design of the system. The problem of excessiveness was further exacerbated since the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPACT) required fixture flow reductions along with other conservation endeavors by the Water Sense program of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Household plumbing fixture changes need to be identified since the probabilistic method uses the mathematical parameters of a fixture’s flow rate, the duration of the flow, and how often the fixture is in use. These fixture parameters have significantly changed since the original Hunter method. Another problem needing resolve is the absence of congested use of fixtures in residential dwellings. The original Hunter model assumed congested use based on the assumption that there is a queue of people waiting to use each fixture. This assumption is not applicable for single family dwellings.”


Lyman, R. A. (1992). “Peak and off-peak residential water demand.” Water Resources Research 28(9): 2159-2167


Abstract: Residential water demand is studied with microdata and with allowance for (1) seasonal differences in price elasticity, (2) a dynamic adjustment process, (3) a marginal price specification, (4) cross-price effects between peak and off-peak demand, and (5) the inclusion of a detailed set of household demographic variables including accurate measures of age distribution and household income. The findings are that the peak (summer) price elasticity of demand is more than twice the off-peak elasticity; cross price effects are important at the 5% level of significance; variables measuring household income, property value, related property features, and age distribution are simultaneously significant; and finally, peak period adjustment rates are found to be less than off-peak rates.


Sharpe, W., Swistock, B. 2017. “Household Water Conservation.” Penn State University Extension. [link]

Abstract: “We want to give you the latest information on water-efficient plumbing fixtures and appliances for home water conservation. We will give you a glimpse at this equipment and illustrate how important conservation is in reducing water and energy use and wasteflows to sewage treatment plants and septic systems. Household water and energy conservation are inescapably linked: by saving water we preserve the energy needed to get it into our homes and treat it. By reducing our use of hot water we will save even more: the energy consumed in heating water ranks second behind that used for home heating and cooling. Energy conservation also helps alleviate major environmental problems such as global warming and acid rain. Although we use water more efficiently then we did a few years ago, much more can be done.”


—. 2016- How much water does the average person use at home per day, The USGS Water Science School, [link]

Abstract: “Estimates vary, but each person uses about 80-100 gallons of water per day. Are you surprised that the largest use of household water is to flush the toilet, and after that, to take showers and baths? That is why, in these days of water conservation, we are starting to see toilets and showers that use less water than before.

Many local governments now have laws that specify that water faucets, toilets, and showers only allow a certain amount of water flow per minute. Water agencies in some areas, such as here in Atlanta, Georgia, offer rebates if you install a water-efficient toilet. In fact, I just put in two new toilets and received a rebate of $100 for each. Yes, they really do use a lot less water. For your kitchen and bathroom faucets, if you look real close at the head of a faucet, you might see something like “1.0 gpm”, which means that the faucet head will allow water to flow at a maximum of 1.0 gallons per minute.”


—. 2017. WECalc – Your Home Water-Energy-Climate Calculator. Pacific Institute [link]

Abstract: “WECalc, the Water-Energy-Climate Calculator, will ask you a series of questions about your home water use habits. Based on your replies, WECalc estimates your water use and provides personalized recommendations for reducing that use. WECalc also estimates your water-related energy use and associated greenhouse gas emissions.”


—. Water Use Calculator. Southwest Florida Water Management District. [link]

Abstract: “Calculator to estimate daily water use based on local averages and national benchmarks.”



Resources on green buildings and water efficiency


Bourg, J. 2016. “Water Conservation.” Whole Building Design Guide. [link]

Abstract: “Water conservation technologies and strategies are often the most overlooked aspects of a whole-building design strategy. However, the planning for various water uses within a building is increasingly becoming a high priority. This is due to a number of reasons, namely that new and existing water resources are becoming increasingly scarce in a number of regions throughout the country; per capita water consumption is increasing annually; water and sewer rates have increased dramatically over the last decade (100–400%); and new water supply options are too costly or altogether unavailable—often resulting in stringent water use requirements in new construction applications. In addition, there is the increasing recognition of the water, energy, and O&M savings that can be realized through the implementation of water saving initiatives.

Within the federal sector alone it is estimated that expenditures for water and sewer services reach up to $1 billion annually. Further, it is estimated that through moderate gains in water efficiency the federal government could save as much as $240 million per year. Water savings at these levels, approximately 40%, could provide enough water to supply a population of approximately 1.8 million. This water savings potential is enormous with relatively low cost expenditures. There are also significant energy cost savings associated with water efficiency measures. For example, federal facilities use approximately 60 billion Btu of energy annually to process and use water. Over ninety-eight percent of this energy is used for water heating, further illustrating that water conservation measures are an integral part of a facility’s overall energy management plan.”


Das, O., Bera, P., Moulick, S. 2015. “Water Conservation Aspects of Green Buildings” International Journal of Research in Engineering and Technology. [link]

Abstract: “The Earth’s surface is filled with water by 71.7%, but only 3% of this water can be used as potable water. In the present days, with the rapid increase in population water conservation has become a major issue. Green buildings are being created around the world to minimize the use of resources, reduce various harmful effects to the ecology and create a clean environment. With the increasing demand for water it has become a necessity to implement water conservation in the design of green buildings. This paper overviews the prioritization of water conservation as one of the important aspects of green buildings to save water. Various water efficient technologies such as water cooling towers and rain water harvesting are being implemented around the world. Countries such as Taiwan and Jordan have taken major steps towards implementing water efficient technologies into their green building designs. They have introduced water conservation index to evaluate the consumption of water and the water saving efficiency of the green buildings. Different rating systems have been introduced to establish the degree of accomplishment of environmental goals of the green buildings. Hence, it has been concluded that by using these water efficient techniques, the precious water can be saved in an economic way so that our future generations don’t face the curse of water scarcity.”


Gilmer, L., Hughel, G. 2008. “Improving Water Efficiency in your Building.” Facility Facts newsletter, Facility Engineering Associates. Vol. 16 No. 4. [link]

Abstract: “Water is one of our most precious natural resources. We are accustomed to having clean, reliable drinking water provided by municipalities to our buildings and our homes. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a recent government survey showed at least 36 states are anticipating local, regional, or statewide water shortages by 2013. These statistics underscore our need to manage our resources better at every level.

So what can a facility manager do? According to the U.S. Department of Energy, commercial buildings consume 88% of the potable water in the U.S. Facility managers have a unique opportunity to make a huge impact in our overall water consumption. In this article, we will discuss how you can benchmark your facility’s water use, and measures you can implement to improve overall efficiency.”


Green Building Advisor 2017. Green Plumbing Systems Save Water and Energy. [link]

Abstract: “Provide guidelines for designing the plumbing system to save water and energy. Focuses on – efficient plumbing layouts, hot water circulation, gray water collection and use, and drain water heat recovery systems.”


Huff, W. 2016. “Plumbing Engineering.” Whole Building Design Guide: NIBS. [link]

Abstract: “The earth has a complex natural biospheric recycling system that converts air, water, and solid waste of animals through plants, soil, and evaporation to fresh water and air for animal consumption. Successful societies respect the biospheric systems by reproducing the earth’s recycling systems in their own artificial biospheric plumbing system. Historically, as societies grew in complexity and size, so did the plumbing systems supporting them. A disciplined method of water hydrology grew as evidenced in the Roman aqueduct system. Through the centuries these valuable methods were lost. In the past few centuries, with the growth of the industrial revolution and the scientific method, new plumbing methods were formalized into different engineering professions. The Plumbing Engineer is involved with systems that overlap into the mechanical, civil, and chemical engineering disciplines. The Plumbing Engineer is in a key position to influence the water efficiency, sustainable site, energy, fire protection, and pollution systems of a facility. The future of Plumbing Engineering lies in the ability to design systems with the “whole building” in mind using, preserving, and respecting the natural biospheric earth systems of recycling air, waste, and water.”


Nelson, P. 2007. “Measuring from the High Watermark: Defining Baselines for Water Efficiency in Green Buildings” Legislation and Public Policy. Vol. 11:105. [link]

Abstract: “Over the last decade, green building has caught the attention of builders around the world, engendering a nascent revolution in the way buildings are built. In the United States, the U.S. Green Building Council’s (“USGBC”) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (“LEED”) Green Building Rating System provides a voluntary checklist against which builders can measure their projects. LEED measures the efforts of builders in five “areas of human and environmental health” – sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor environmental quality.

Although LEED and other green building programs advance a “whole-building approach,” a significant portion of the literature and debate surrounding green building focuses on energy efficiency. Recent spikes in the price of oil, the finite nature of many sources of energy, and the need for energy security have drawn attention to this area of green building. Green building commentators, however, have dedicated relatively little attention to water savings, despite the urgent need for careful water management and conservation in many parts of the United States and throughout the world. Specifically, builders and commentators have closely analyzed the problem of defining baselines against which to measure increases in energy efficiency for purposes of achieving points under the LEED rating system, while baselines for measuring water efficiency remain largely undefined. This note attempts to explain and address this oversight. Part I outlines the economic, social, and environmental importance of water savings in the United States and presents the rationale for including water savings in green building programs such as LEED. Part II provides a brief summary of green building, including its development and social and theoretical underpinnings. Part III explains why the green building movement has largely ignored the problem of defining baselines for water savings. Part IV analyzes the benefits and drawbacks of various approaches to this problem and makes a recommendation for defining baselines. Part V applies this approach to Phoenix, Arizona, a city that is experiencing rapid growth and faces considerable water constraints. As a result, it is an ideal site for exploring the problem of defining baselines for water efficiency in green buildings. Finally, this note concludes by examining the role of water savings in green building in the larger context of water regulation and conservation.”


Rhoads, W. J., et al. (2016). “Survey of green building water systems reveals elevated water age and water quality concerns.” Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology 2(1): 164-173

Abstract: “Widespread adoption of innovative water conservation strategies has potential unintended consequences for aesthetics and public health. A cross-section of green buildings were surveyed and compared to typical conventional buildings in terms of water retention time (i.e., water age), water chemistry, and levels of opportunistic pathogen genetic markers. Water age was estimated to be 2–6.7 months in an off-grid office, an average of 8 days in a Leadership in Environmental Engineering Design certified healthcare suite, and was increased to 2.7 days from 1 day due to installation of a solar “pre-heat” water tank in a net-zero energy house. Chlorine and chloramine residuals were often completely absent in the green building systems, decaying up to 144 times faster in premise plumbing with high water age when compared to distribution system water. Concentration of 16S rRNA and opportunistic pathogen genus level genetic markers were 1–4 orders of magnitude higher in green versus conventional buildings. This study raises concerns with respect to current green water system practices and the importance of considering potential public health impacts in the design of sustainable water systems.”


—. 2017. “Indoor water use reduction” WE2 possible point. U.S. Green Building Council. [link]

Abstract: “LEED credit to reduce indoor water consumption. Provides quantitative requirements to earn LEED points.”


—. 2014. “Green Building 101: How does water efficiency impact a building?” [link]

Abstract: “LEED primer of water efficiency. Green building encourages innovative water-saving strategies that help projects use water wisely. Project teams can follow an integrated process to begin assessing existing water resources, opportunities for reducing water demand, and alternative water supplies.”


—. 2017. “Best Management Practices for Water Efficiency.” Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, U.S. Dept. of Energy. [link]

Abstract: “The Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) worked with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop 14 water efficiency best management practices (BMPs) to help agencies increase water efficiency and meet federal requirements. Each BMP provides operations and maintenance improvements and retrofit and replacement options. Use these best management practices to glean project ideas for reducing water use and increasing water efficiency at your agency.”


—. 2015. “Water-Efficient Plumbing Fixtures” National Conference of State legislators. [link]

Abstract: “Reducing indoor water use in residences and businesses can be accomplished through water-efficiency standards for plumbing fixtures. Generally, the standards impose a maximum on the amount of water used per flush by toilets and urinals and per minute by faucets and showerheads. In the United States, these amounts or flow rates are described as gallon per flush (gpf) or gallon per minute (gpm).

Efficiency standards also typically leave it to fixture manufacturers to meet these goals without compromising performance. The standards can also apply to the sale and installation of plumbing fixtures in addition to their manufacture. Today, nine states have their own mandatory standards for plumbing fixtures while others are using financial incentives, community planning efforts, and water conservation requirements for public buildings to promote the adoption of efficient fixtures.”


—. 2011. “Chapter 8: Water” DOE Buildings Energy Data Book. [link]

Abstract: “The Data Book includes statistics on residential and commercial building energy consumption. Data tables contain statistics related to construction, building technologies, energy consumption, and building characteristics. The Building Technologies Program within the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy developed this resource to provide a current and accurate set of comprehensive buildings- and energy-related data. The Data Book is an evolving document and is updated periodically.

Chapter 8 includes data on water use in commercial and residential buildings and the energy needed to supply that water.”


—. 2008. “Water-Efficient Single-Family New Home Specification Supporting Statement.” EPA WaterSense. [link]

Abstract: “The WaterSense® Program is developing criteria for water-efficient new homes. The intent of the Water-Efficient Single-Family New Home Specification (Specification) is to reduce indoor and outdoor water usage in new residential homes and encourage community infrastructure savings. The Specification is applicable to newly constructed single-family homes and townhomes, three stories or less in size.”


—. 2008. “Water Conservation and Efficiency.” Massachusetts Water Resources Authority. [link]

Abstract: “MWRA’s Water Conservation and Efficiency programs help maintain regional water demand comfortably below the water supply system’s safe yield (300 million gallons per day). MWRA’s current average annual regional water demand is less than 220 mgd.

Water conservation also helps maintain regional wastewater flow below the required permit limit at the Deer Island Wastewater Treatment Plant.

More information is available for communities, environmental groups, individual customers, covering a wide range of water conservation and efficiency topics.”


—. 2017. “Water Use Management Plan.” Challenge for Sustainability. [link]

Abstract: “A water use management plan provides clear information about how a facility uses its water, from the time it is piped into the facility through disposal. One or several employees usually oversee the creation of the plan, which has many components: data regarding how much water the facility is using for each activity, what it’s costing the workplace, obvious sources of waste such as dripping taps, the evaluation of water efficiency measures, and a subsequent implementation plan.”


—. 2017. “Water conservation at EPA.” United States Environmental Protection Agency. [link]

Abstract: “The U.S. population has doubled over the past 50 years, while our thirst for water has tripled. With at least 40 states anticipating water shortages by 2024, the need to conserve water is critical. EPA strives to integrate water management best practices at all of its facilities.”


—. 2008. “Facility Manager’s Guide to Water Management.” Arizona Municipal Water Users Association, Regional Water Conservation Committee. [link]

Abstract: “Our cities are committed to helping our industrial, commercial, and institutional customers improve their water use efficiency. This workbook was developed to provide guidance to customers wishing to design their own water management programs and provides specific step-by-step instructions and suggestions on how best to develop and implement a program for your facility.   Not all material in this guidebook will pertain to your particular business.   You may move those sections to the back of the book or just skip them.”



Resources on water pipe sizing


Balkan, D. 2014. “Calculating The Correct Water Supply Line Size.” Balkan Plumbing. [link]

Abstract: “Industry video and guidelines for water piping sizing”


Zannini, R. 2002. “Sizing Domestic Water Pipes.” JLC [link]

Abstract: “Some plumbers successfully size residential supply pipes based on long experience or rules of thumb. But in unusual circumstances — when a house has low pressure, long pipe runs, an extensive irrigation system, or a large whirlpool tub — rules of thumb may result in undersized pipes that perform poorly or don’t meet code. To accurately size residential water supply pipes, you need to have information on six important variables:

  • code requirements
  • available minimum static pressure at the water meter or pressure tank
  • the pressure-reducing effect of any water meter, backflow preventer, water softener, and/or whole-house filter
  • length of pipe to the most remote fixture in the building
  • height of the building
  • water demand, expressed in supply fixture units or gallons per minute”


—. 2006. “Design Guide – Residential PEX water supply plumbing systems.” U.S. Dept. of HUD. [link]

Abstract: “This Design Guide provides the information and resources necessary to design and install cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) water supply systems in residential buildings. It includes comprehensive design concepts and installation guidelines to increase the acceptance and proper use of PEX. This document is targeted to meet the needs of home builders, designers, and trade contractors. Its purpose is to introduce potential users to PEX and to enable current users to optimize their PEX plumbing and minimize system costs. In addition, it will allow code inspectors and homeowners to become familiar with the applications, performance characteristics, and benefits of PEX water supply systems.”


—. 2006. “Appendix E: Sizing of water piping system.” Virginia Plumbing Code. [link]

Abstract: “This appendix outlines two procedures for sizing a water piping system (see Sections E103.3 and E201.1). The design procedures are based on the minimum static pressure available from the supply source, the head changes in the system caused by friction and elevation, and the rates of flow necessary for operation of various fixtures.”


—. 2006. “Chapter 6: Water Supply and Distribution.” Virginia Plumbing Code. [link]

Abstract: “This chapter shall govern the materials, design and installation of water supply systems, both hot and cold, for utilization in connection with human occupancy and habitation and shall govern the installation of individual water supply systems.”



Resources on codes and zoning


Beauregard, S. 2013. “Greening the Building Code: an Analysis of Large Project Review under Boston Zoning Code Articles 37 and 80.” M.S. Thesis, University of Massachusetts [link]

Abstract: “In 2007, Mayor Thomas Menino and the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) implemented an amendment to the Boston Zoning Code Article 37 (Green Buildings) requiring new construction approved under Article 80B (Development Review and Approval: Large Project Review) be designed and built to meet the United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (USGBC LEED) certification. This amendment is intended to promote green building practices in the city and reduce the environmental impacts of buildings larger than 50,000 square feet. Article 37 does not require that the buildings actually achieve LEED certification, but they need to be LEED certifiable as determined by an interagency review committee and with the endorsement of a LEED Accredited Professional.

This study examines how environmental goals have been translated into policy and how this policy has affected building practice in the City of Boston. The Green Buildings amendment was enacted to help curb greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the energy consumption of the building stock and is expected to help achieve the City’s goal of reducing carbon emissions by 25% by the year 2020 and 80% by the year 2050. This is not possible without a shift in the current building and construction paradigm. Through interviews with building professionals we assess whether this building code amendment has resulted in any necessary changes in practice and whether or not those working under the standard of LEED certifiability believe it to be an effective policy.”


Hoffman, B. 2009. “State Codes, LEED Tighten Water Efficiency Standards.” Facilitiesnet. [link]

Abstract: “Lately, there has been a veritable crescendo of activities at the national level regarding water efficiency. New codes and standards will impact the way facility executives plan water efficiency projects, specifically, but also whole-building operations in general.

The first question may be why there is this emphasis on water. Facility executives may have thought that “going green” meant one thing and one thing only: energy efficiency. The truth is that water is now on the radar screen for a number of reasons beyond simply the droughts that have occurred all over the country the last several years. Since 2001, water and wastewater costs have risen 1.45 times faster than electricity costs, according to the United States Consumer Price Index.

Both the availability of new freshwater supplies and rising water and wastewater treatment costs to meet ever more stringent drinking water and wastewater treatment levels are all contributing to these rapidly rising costs. Furthermore, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) predicts that 37 states will have non-drought-related water supply shortages of some type by 2013.

For these reasons, many new initiatives have been created to ensure a more water efficient future. Facility executives should be aware of these initiatives, which fall into three categories: regulatory and legislative initiatives, including new codes and standards; updated green building initiatives; and assistance and information programs.”


Reed, L. 2012. “Capacity Building as a Policy Instrument in Water Conservation: A Case Study on Commercial, Industrial, and Institutional Consumers.” Water Resource Management. Vol. 26(13), 3819-3829 [link]

Abstract: “Efforts by municipal water agencies to improve demand end water use efficiency have focused largely on incentive programs and regulatory interventions. However, another important approach to achieving conservation targets is capacity-building, which may be particularly effective when target populations are motivated to improve their consumption efficiency but are lacking information or technology to do so. This case study considers a program by the Santa Clara Valley Water District (CA, USA) which aims to enable conservation among a group of consumers by providing information about current use and potential savings as well as optional access to water saving devices. The impact of this capacity building approach on consumption patterns was quantified by comparing water histories of program participants to a control group of similar sites within the District. Participating sites showed a net savings of 18.22 % when compared to the control group. The study demonstrates that capacity building approaches can effectively compliment other interventions such as conservation incentives to improve demand end water use efficiency.”


Sigmon, J. 2011. “Tapping the Zoning Code to Enable Greener Buildings and Communities.” U.S. Green Building Council. [link]

Abstract: “Many communities are opening up their zoning codes to identify and remove barriers, and adopting language that will encourage greener building and greener living outcomes. You wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Portland, Oregon has been greening its zoning code for several years including a handful of updates this year. You might be surprised that other cities and counties, such as the City of Buffalo, NY and Will County, Illinois, are doing (or have done) the same through a community-focused comprehensive look at how the zoning code could better encourage the development of a greener community. In these last few weeks of 2011, both Philadelphia and New York are at milestones worth celebrating.”


—. “Green Building Requirements.” Office of Energy and Sustainable Development. City of Berkeley, CA, [link]

Abstract: “Building Sustainably Green buildings provide healthy, comfortable building interiors that maximize savings through the efficient use of energy and water and limit construction impacts on the natural environment. The City of Berkeley requires that new buildings, alterations, and additions meet the requirements of the California State Green Building Code (CALGreen). Documentation of compliance with CALGreen must be provided with plans submitted for building permits and can be provided with one of the four customized City of Berkeley CALGreen checklists.”


—. “Water Conservation and Building Regulation.” [link]

Abstract: “A table showing which of the Municipal standards or requirements relate to various water conservation measures.”


—. 2016. “2016 Commercial Rating Guidebook.” Austin Energy Green Building. [link]

Abstract: “In 1991, Austin Energy Green Building® (AEGB) developed the first rating system in the U.S. for evaluating the sustainability of buildings. Since its inception, AEGB has rated more than 20 million square feet of commercial buildings, as well as more than 10,000 single family and 12,500 multifamily dwelling units. We regularly update our ratings to maintain an effective, Austin-specific tool, and to encourage sustainability in Central Texas.”