Water Efficiency

Photo: Ospr3yy. License: CC BY-SA 3.0.


For years, the U.S. has taken water for granted. Low prices and a lack of regulation have led to massive waste, poor infrastructure, and the illusion that we have an endless supply.

But that mindset is changing. We’ve seen drought in the Southwest U.S., water rationing in California, dwindling aquifers, and contaminated water supplies. These problems are not going to be solved by drilling deeper wells.

Water-saving appliances, improved wastewater treatment, and higher performance goals can all mitigate the damage. Here you’ll find resources on products and strategies you need to achieve these goals.

  • The Embodied Energy of Tap Water
    September 8, 2015


    A third of the annual energy bill paid by a municipality goes toward water treatment. Here’s why clean water uses so much energy.

  • Water: Doing More With Less
    February 3, 2008

    Feature Article

    The U.S. uses about 400 billion gallons of water a day, and water shortages are becoming more common. Water-saving products and technologies, some currently on the market and others in development, can reduce that wasteful flow to a trickle.

  • Alternative Water Sources: Supply-Side Solutions for Green Buildings
    April 29, 2008

    Feature Article

    Both the recent drought in the normally-wet Southeast and impending water shortages in the Southwest are a reminder that water efficiency should be a top priority for our buildings. At the same time, finding alternative sources of water is also important for sustainability and passive survivability. Several sources of water can be harvested at the building level as well as through municipal-scale wastewater treatment and desalination.

  • Water Policies: Encouraging Conservation
    August 28, 2008

    Feature Article

    Conserving water goes beyond building design and technology. Water use is governed by federal, state, and local policies, from maximum flow requirements to pricing structures that encourage or discourage conservation.

  • Cost-Effective Green Retrofits: Opportunities for Savings in Existing Buildings
    March 26, 2009

    Feature Article

    Between lighting, water use, mechanical systems, the building envelope, and occupant health, existing buildings are rife with cost-effective retrofits and operational opportunities that also offer environmental benefits. Improvements range from the painfully obvious to the more complex and involved.

  • Commercial Kitchens: Cooking Up Green Opportunities
    February 1, 2010

    Feature Article

    Commercial kitchens run energy- and water-intensive equipment for long hours, sometimes even when not in use. While the challenges of saving water and energy in commercial kitchens are daunting, they're not insurmountable. Careful equipment selection and a commitment to conscientious kitchen practices can dramatically cut down on waste-and utility bills.

  • Waste Water, Want Water
    January 28, 2013

    Feature Article

    Options for small-scale, onsite wastewater treatment and reuse are improving-but can we solve a global crisis one building at a time?

  • Innovative Products and Technology from the Greenbuild Expo
    December 30, 2013

    Feature Article

    Our product editors pick some winners from the expo floor at Greenbuild 2013 while raising questions about some materials.

  • Net-Zero Water and More: Moving Beyond “Low Flow”
    May 5, 2014

    Feature Article

    These emerging water strategies are finding momentum and filling the need to address efficiency and resilience on multiple scales.

  • How to Succeed with the Living Building Challenge: 12 Teams Share Tips
    January 4, 2015

    Feature Article

    The bar is high—that’s obvious—but watch out for some surprising pitfalls. Here’s how dedicated teams have tackled Living Building challenges.