Green Buildings + Water Performance

Seventh in a Series of Annual Reports on the Green Building Movement
August 11, 2010

What Building Teams and Home Builders Can DoTo Confront the Pending Crisis in Water Scarcity

“People can’t drink oil.” That is what one respondent to our exclusive survey of AEC professionals said, to highlight the absolute necessity of water to our everyday lives.

Our seventh White Paper on Green Buildings focuses on the role of water in sustainable design and construction. The context for this discussion is shaped by the following:

Virtually every region of the U.S. and parts of most states likely will experience water shortages in the next 10 years.

  • More water is consumed outside buildings and homes—for landscape irrigation and cooling towers—than is used inside for toilets, faucets, and showers.

  • Up to 20% of our purified water is lost to leaks in the nation’s decaying infrastructure.

  • There have been significant improvements in the efficiency of plumbing products in the last two decades, but saving too much water could lead to conditions that might impact the health of building occupants.

  • Improving water performance can also help reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

  • The reuse of water may be “the next big thing” in water conservation, efficiency, and performance.

    The editors conclude with a set of 21 detailed recommendations—an Action Plan—for the consideration of Building Teams, home builders, developers, building owners, government officials, industry membership associations, NGOs, and the public with regard to water performance.