Water and Energy Resource Management in Sustainable Building Essay Example

Introduction and Project Background

Sustainable building can be defined as a holistic approach to the planning, siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and demolition that keeps the building’s impact on the environment, the users, and the community at minimum (Akadiri, et al., 2012). The increase in the development of building projects provide the contextual basis for formulation and implementation of water and energy resource management strategies. Water and energy efficiency are the most vital resources on earth and form the most important elements of sustainable building. Access to clean portable water and sufficient energy continues to be an issue of great concern in many parts of the world (Ragheba, et al., 2015). Thus, effective strategies for the management of these resources has become paramount to existing and new building construction efforts.

Water Efficiency

Reducing the consumption of water and protecting water quality are the major goals of sustainable building. The issue of concern is that the demand for water supply exceeds the ability to replenish the supplying aquifer. Green buildings help in the conservation of our water resources through features like reduced lot size, water-efficient indoor fixtures, water-conserving irrigation systems, water re-use and alternative water sources, building water pressure, low-water use landscaping etc. – which all play a significant role in the overall water efficiency.

Energy Efficiency

Sustainable buildings often include strategies to minimize energy consumption, form the embodied energy needed to extract, process, transport and install the materials used in the construction, to the energy needed in the operation of the building to provide services such as power for equipment and appliances used in the building (N. & R.Ravindra, 2014). Since high-performance buildings consume less energy, a greater importance has been placed on the embodied energy which makes a significant proportion of a building’s overall life cycle energy use (Ghosh & Dhaka, 2015). To minimize the energy required in the operation of the building, designers use strategies such as technologies that reduce air leakage through the envelope of the building, installation of onsite renewable energy sources, use of energy efficient equipment, appropriate landscaping design etc. High energy efficiency lowers carbon emissions from both the building’s energy systems and power plants.

Problem Statement

Across the globe, buildings are responsible for the highest share of water, energy, electricity and materials consumption. Proper management of these resources is crucial to ensuring that they are used in the most sustainable way possible, while meeting the needs of the building. Using effective strategies in the management of these resources aims to minimize the environmental impact of sustainable building. If effective strategies are not adopted at this time when there is rapid growth in the number of buildings globally, the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) projects that energy demands could increase by 50% (UNEP, 2016). Today, buildings account for up to 18% of global emissions, equivalent to 9 billion tonnes of CO2 produced annually, with the largest percentage associated with energy production and use. Many sustainable buildings have no effective strategies for efficient water and energy use, and their management. Achieving building sustainability in terms of water and energy use requires management strategies that work efficiently within the building context.

Objectives of the Study

The primary objectives of this research will be to:

  1. To understand the principles of water and energy management in buildings.
  2. To investigate the strategies, systems, practices and products used in efficient management of water and energy resources in sustainable building.
  3. To investigate the role of strategic water and energy resource management in sustainable building, including the benefits of water and energy management in buildings.
  4. To investigate the challenges faced in implementing water and energy management strategies and systems.
  5. To recommend measures to improve the efficient use of water and energy in sustainable building.

Research Questions

In achieving the above objectives, the research will seek to answer the following questions:

  1. What are the principles of water and energy resource management in sustainable building?
  2. What strategies are currently being used to ensure efficient use of water and energy resources in buildings?
  3. What role is played by strategic water and energy management in the building and construction industry? What are the benefits to the environment, occupants and the community?
  4. What constraints are faced in implementing water and energy management strategies in sustainable building?

Significance of the Study

There is great potential in the building and construction industry to minimize global emissions and utilize water and energy resources in the most efficient and sustainable way. As the world is currently facing reduced surface water and ground water due to droughts and changing climate patterns, there has been increased need for water conservation, consumption efficiency and water recycling and reuse in buildings (Chanan, et al., 2003). Efficient water practices and products can provide a significant opportunity to build low water demand structures that create sustainable building. On the other hand, the consumption of energy in buildings has increased with increasing number of buildings across the globe (Gireeshma & Rao, 2016). The biggest problems being faced by the world today are pollution and energy crisis. Pollution is caused by fossil fuels which are an important source of energy. However, with the depletion of fossil fuels, alternative sources of energy need to be developed, while conserving the current supply. To achieve this in the building and construction industry, buildings must be designed and constructed to operate with means for sustainable use of energy without compromising the performance, comfort and services of the building. Water and energy savings can be significant for countries across the globe.


Efficient management of water and energy resources in sustainable building can significantly reduce the impact of a building on the environment, without compromising its performance and service delivery.

Project Design and Methodology

The research intends to make use of questionnaires, observation schedules, structured and unstructured interviews, and extensive literature search as the main tools of collecting the information required in the study. An extensive literature search will provide a strong foundation of knowledge on what other researchers have presented on the topic, upon which the results and discussions of the findings will be based. Observation schedules will be made on selected buildings within Australia to physically examine how water and energy management has been achieved in the building facilities. Questionnaires and, unstructured and structured interviews will be designed and send to building management organizations to extract the relevant information in the area of study.


Akadiri, P. O., Chinyio, E. A. & Olomolaiye, P. O., 2012. Design of A Sustainable Building: A Conceptual Framework for Implementing Sustainability in the Building Sector. Buildings, Volume 2, pp. 126-152.

Chanan, V., White, S., Howe, C. & Jha, M., 2003. Sustainable Water Management in Commercial Office Buildings. Perth, University of Technology Sydney (UTS).

Ghosh, S. & Dhaka, A., 2015. Green Structures: Energy Efficient Buildings, New Delhi: Ane Books.

Gireeshma, K. & Rao, K., 2016. A Conceptual Review of Green Buildings in Energy Saving. s.l., SMART.

N., V. B. & R.Ravindra, 2014. Energy Efficient And Green Technology Concepts. International Journal of Research in Engineering and Technology, 3(6), pp. 253-258.

Ragheba, A., El-Shimy, H. & Ragheb, G., 2015. Green Architecture: A Concept Of Sustainability. Procedia, Volume 216, p. 778 – 787.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), 2016. Towards zero-emission efficient and resilient buildings — The Global Status Report 2016 , s.l.: UNEP.