Cape Town Foreshadows Humanity’s Day Zero: What Can Our Buildings Do to Stop It?

Though the tourist destination of Cape Town may be one of the country’s most extreme examples, the effects of the 100-year drought are being felt in other areas as well, including the Eastern Cape province, where water restrictions are in effect; Kwa-Zulu Natal, where dam levels are getting extremely low; and in the country’s maize belt, where the drought has taken its toll.
For water consumption greater than 10 percent during construction, the group recommends that a leak detection study be performed to ensure that leaks large or small do not occur throughout the duration of a building’s lifespan.
Conservation WBDG points out that watering landscape can account for over 20 percent of a building’s water usage.
A water-efficient irrigation system will further help ensure that less water is used.
Cooling towers for controlling indoor temperatures should rely on recycled water, rather than potable water.
Recycling While all of the aforementioned methods are necessary to minimize the waste associated with facilities, it’s possible to take these methods a step further by recycling non-potable water.
WBDG breaks these strategies into four groups: on-site water, reclaimed water, gray water and water catchment.
Water catchment relies on capturing rainwater or fresh water sources, and then reusing it for irrigation and toilet flushing.
Some of the methods that apply to commercial buildings can be implemented too, such as reducing lawn size and repairing leaks as soon as possible.
Homeowners can sometimes apply through local programs—particularly in drought-stricken areas like California where these changes are required by law—for the direct-install of high-efficiency fixtures or kits that they can install themselves.

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