Framework for Design Excellence: Design for Water

Good design conserves and improves the quality of water as a precious resource.

  • How does the project use water wisely, addressing efficiency and consumption while matching water quality to appropriate use?
  • How can the project’s water systems maintain function during emergencies or disruptions?
  • How does the project handle rainfall and stormwater responsibly?
  • How does the project contribute to a healthy regional watershed?

Focus topics

  • indoor water efficiency
  • outdoor water use reduction
  • process water reuse
  • capture/reuse of greywater and/or blackwater
  • rainwater/stormwater use and management
  • net zero water building (NZWB)

If you can do only one (or a few) thing(s):

  • Establish a stakeholder map of the watershed your project is located within—understand who is impacted by project-related water-use decisions (see Design for Equitable Communities).
  • Develop a water budget analysis to determine the water resource available to the project, how much water is needed, and how the water system can work to minimize the usage of potable water, while balancing the needs of both outdoor and indoor water resources as a unified system.
  • Benchmark indoor water use and use this baseline to set percent-reduction goals to target.
  • Reduce or eliminate outdoor water use (irrigation reduction/elimination).
  • Manage stormwater runoff with the goals of increasing on-site infiltration and improving water quality downstream.

    Additional information

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    Image credits

    Marine Education Center at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory

    Casey Dunn


    Bruce Damonte

    COTE Daniels1

    Nic Lehoux

    Curving room on an entrance with an awning at dusk with lit front doors and clerestory.

    Prakash Patel