Resources for Water Efficiency Planning and Operations

Water efficiency lowers operating costs, increases reliability, improves water quality, and saves the energy required to transport and treat it. Water security is also a growing concern, particularly in water-stressed regions of the country. The resources on this page can help organizations establish water management strategies and reduce water use across their buildings and operations. They are organized in the following categories:

Making a Plan   Monitoring & Tracking   Operations & Maintenance   Featured Partner Solutions

Learn more about achieving water efficiency with DOE's Better Buildings Water Savings Network here.

Making a Plan

These guidance documents and interactive tools feature best practices for planning and managing water-efficient buildings developed by public institutions and nonprofit organizations.

Overview: Protect and Conserve Water in Buildings
This overview of water efficiency in buildings includes recommendations for water use efficiency and quality, summarizes best management practices, and provides links to relevant codes, laws, and standards. Developed by the Whole Building Design Guide’s (WBDG) Sustainable Committee

Alternative Water Maps
This series of maps and related sources can help organizations implement alternative water projects such as rainwater harvesting, condensate capture, and wastewater reclamation. Developed by the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP).

Developing a Water Management Plan
This framework outlines the general steps for creating a successful water management plan that includes water efficiency improvements, conservation activities, and water-reduction goals. Developed by FEMP.

Water Project Screening Tool
This Excel-based tool enables federal agencies to quickly screen sites for water-efficiency opportunities and helps determine if they would be cost-effective. Developed by FEMP.

EPA WaterSense for Commercial Buildings
This site provides a variety of resources that help facility managers, building owners, and other stakeholders save water, energy, and operating costs. Developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Water Management Plans and Best Practices at EPA
EPA water management plans help individual facilities set long- and short-term water conservation goals. This page summarizes the top 10 water management techniques EPA has used to reduce water use at its facilities.

National Survey of Water Efficiency Programs
This report describes the findings of a survey of 380 U.S. and Canadian water utilities that had active commercial, industrial, and institutional water efficiency programs. The results include information about common practices, data collection, methodologies, and more. Developed by the American Water Works Association (AWWA).

Sustainable Facilities Tool
This comprehensive tool is designed to help the Federal Government make sustainable decisions and achieve high performance in the facilities it owns, leases, and operates. The tool outlines practices that can be replicated in other public and commercial sector properties. Developed by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).

Design Elements of a Net Zero Water Building
This resource discusses specific practices that support net zero water design, such as reducing demand, producing alternative water, treating wastewater, and green infrastructure. Developed by FEMP.

Net Zero Water Buildings Strategies
This resource offers strategies on how to design and implement net zero water in buildings; it also provides two specific examples of net zero water buildings and outlines the strategies they used. Developed by FEMP.

Monitoring and Tracking Data

An integral component of water-efficient buildings is the ability to accurately monitor water usage, detect leaks, and enable timely tracking of the water budget so that users can manage water efficiency adaptively. These resources provide helpful strategies and tools for users to fill that information gap.

Technical Water Meter Selection Guidelines
This resource discusses 3 types of water meters (positive displacement, differential pressure, and velocity) and provides guidelines on how facilities can select the appropriate meter for their operations. Developed by FEMP.

Water Audit Guidance for Commercial Buildings
This report provides both an outline for procedural execution of water audits and a detailed format for water audit reports. It also outlines applicable rebates that commercial building operators can apply to their own facilities. Developed by the City Energy Project.

Estimating Methods for Determining End-Use Water Consumption
This page provides best practices for estimating daily water use for typical end-uses that drive building-level water consumption. These end-uses include batch processing/manufacturing, evaporative cooling systems, irrigation, plumbing, steam heating systems, and vehicle wash systems. Developed by FEMP.

Water Use Demand Calculator
This Excel-based tool is designed to help calculate expected water demand for a variety of indoor and outdoor water uses. Developed by the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO).

Landscape Water Budget Tool
This Excel-based tool can help to ensure a measure of efficiency and regional suitability for the amount of water applied to a landscape based on local climate data. Developed by EPA.

Water Management Application (WaterMAPP) Efficiency Toolkit
This Excel-based toolkit is designed to help organizations build their own programs to reduce water and energy use in buildings. It includes a Water Scorecard, a Water Efficiency Calculator, and a Cycles-of-Concentration Estimator, as well as a training webinar. Developed by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the Global Environmental Management Initiative (GEMI).

Operations and Maintenance

Whether it is retrofitting existing structures or maintaining and operating new ones, users can boost water efficiency with new technologies to optimize systems and enhance performance. These resources can support building operators maintain optimal water performance in their facilities.

Water-Efficient Technology Opportunities
These fact sheets provide an overview of commercially available water-saving technologies that offer significant water savings potential. Developed by FEMP.

Technical Operations and Maintenance Guidelines on Common Water Equipment
This overview provides useful tips on maintaining and operating water equipment efficiently to save water and prolong equipment life, including what to assess, how often to assess, and action items for each equipment type. Developed by FEMP.

Water Loss Control Guidance
Water loss control represents the efforts of water utilities to provide accountability in their operation by reliably auditing their water supplies and implementing controls to minimize system losses. This resource from the International Water Association (IWA) and AWWA provides guidance for water utilities to efficiently manage their supplies.