Evaluating the Benefits and Costs of Increased Water-Use Efficiency in Commercial Buildings

by David G. Groves, Jordan R. Fischbach, Scot Hickey

Full Document

Full Document

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.9 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

Summary Only

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.1 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

This report presents an analytical framework and describes a spreadsheet-based tool to help commercial building owners make reasoned judgments about various water-efficiency investment options. The framework considers the costs that are typically incurred when improving efficiency and seeks to include many tangible financial benefits. Specifically, it considers the avoided water, wastewater, and energy costs realized through increased water efficiency and allows the user to specify tiered utility rates that can have a significant impact on investment decisions. As future water savings from efficiency investments cannot always be forecast with certainty, the model includes an innovative scenario-analysis capability to consider variable increases in utility prices. Although the costs and water savings of efficiency devices may also be uncertain, the framework described here assumes that these characteristics are known with certainty. To demonstrate, the report provides a case study of two configurations of the current RAND headquarters building (one with current fixtures and one with older ones). Results for any efficiency package upgrading pre-1992 fixtures suggested highly favorable investment returns, especially upgrading all devices to the 1992 standard and replacing urinals with non-water-using designs. For the building configuration with post-1992 fixtures, only efficiency packages that include replacing existing urinals with non-water-using models performed well.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Assessing Water Efficiency’s Value to a Building Owner

  • Chapter Three

    Selected Water-Efficiency Opportunities in Commercial Buildings

  • Chapter Four

    A New Tool for Evaluating Efficiency Investments

  • Chapter Five

    Case Study Using the Building Water Efficiency Analysis Model

  • Chapter Six


  • Appendix A

    Building Water Efficiency Analysis Model User’s Guide

  • Appendix B

    Case Study: Water Usage and Cost Assumptions

This research was sponsored by the Jane and Marc Nathanson Family Foundation and conducted under the auspices of the Environment, Energy, and Economic Development Program (EEED) within RAND Infrastructure, Safety, and Environment (ISE).

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Technical report series. RAND technical reports may include research findings on a specific topic that is limited in scope or intended for a narrow audience; present discussions of the methodology employed in research; provide literature reviews, survey instruments, modeling exercises, guidelines for practitioners and research professionals, and supporting documentation; or deliver preliminary findings. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure that they meet high standards for research quality and objectivity.

Permission is given to duplicate this electronic document for personal use only, as long as it is unaltered and complete. Copies may not be duplicated for commercial purposes. Unauthorized posting of RAND PDFs to a non-RAND Web site is prohibited. RAND PDFs are protected under copyright law. For information on reprint and linking permissions, please visit the RAND Permissions page.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.