Southface Assists in First Water Efficiency Standards for U.S. Buildings

Alongside national partners, Southface Institute creates groundbreaking water auditing tool

For Immediate Release

ATLANTA, GA – June 12, 2019 – May 31 saw the release of Water Audit Guidance for Commercial Buildings, a multiyear effort by City Energy Project, headed by the Institute for Market Transformation and the Natural Resources Defense Council, together with Southface Institute, H.W. (Bill) Hoffman & Associates, LLC, the Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge (and partners) and 20 local governments, to create the first comprehensive guide to propose water efficiency measures for commercial buildings. The goals of this widely applicable resource are to conserve water, boost local economies and reduce pollution.

Southface President Andrea Pinabell saw the organization’s role as part of a larger effort: “This is a great program highlighting partnership and the importance of a very precious natural resource like water. It will help organizations and municipalities big and small to not only save water but lower operational costs and give people the tools they need to be part of a more sustainable future.”

A model based on best practices

The guide provides a replicable, scalable model that builds upon past successes and innovation to establish best-in-class practices for urban water efficiency. It gives a common basis for conducting water audits; defines levels of effort for water audits; establishes a standard for water audit reports; provides guidance for building owners, managers and governments for conducting water audits; and serves as a guide for best practices for water auditors. The guide will allow auditors to participate in thorough and consistent auditing practices that are comparable throughout the country.

The benefits of a water audit

Water and sewer prices continue to rise at historic rates, nearly doubling about every 12 years. By 2030, the cost of water is projected to reach $25 per 1,000 gallons, and $45 by 2040. Measuring future costs will greatly impact the implementation of retrofits and conservation efforts. Measuring and moderating water use will be of ever-increasing importance for any organization, municipality or building operator as they seek to balance expenses and costs.

Audits involve data collection, and reports will include water-use activities on a property and their costs, as well as the estimated savings and ROI for each conservation measure taken. Reports will provide benchmarking data useful to city planners, efficiency programs and others throughout the commercial building industry.

A first-ever resource

For years, trained service providers have performed energy audits in accordance with ASHRAE standards, but—until now—corresponding performance audit standards had not been prepared for water use.

Shane Totten, Director of Education and Research at Southface, explained the need that this standard was created to meet: “Given the regional issues around water availability, Atlanta has undertaken multiple efforts to implement water efficiency programs. While working on these efforts, Southface and partners realized there was no national standard for performing commercial building water audits. City Energy Project, NRDC and Southface came together to discuss the national demand for such an audit and began convening the partners to create it.”

For more information on the participating cities and counties in the City Energy Project, and to search The City Energy Project Resource Library, visit .

The City Energy Project was generously supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Kresge Foundation.

Southface Institute, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, is a leader in sustainable advocacy, building, planning and operations across the U.S. With a mission to create a healthy and equitably built environment for all, Southface’s consulting services, workforce development, research and policy practices are supporting better homes, workplaces and communities. Experts in the fields of resource efficiency, building tech and organizational sustainability since 1978, Southface is committed to building a regenerative economy to meet tomorrow’s needs today.

For more information, please contact Emily Proctor, Senior Communications Manager, Southface Institute, at

Media Inquiries

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