Study: California Apartment Buildings Fall Short on Water Conservation, Saving Just 6% So Far This Year

Sept. 4, 2015

BOSTON, Aug. 18, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — WegoWise, a building efficiency software provider, today released findings from a two-year study of water efficiency in multifamily buildings. The study found that, on average, California apartment buildings used 6 percent less water in the first half of 2015 compared to the first half of 2013. A very dry May and June saw upwards of 10 percent savings. These savings are substantially less than the 27 percent reduction reported for California as a whole in May of this year, and also fall short of Governor Brown’s required 25 percent reduction.

Savings levels varied across the population of buildings in the study. Apartment buildings that implemented retrofits achieved markedly higher savings than other buildings in the study, reducing water use by 25 percent in the first half of 2015 relative to 2013. Retrofits ranged from comprehensive water fixture overhauls (sinks, showers, toilets) to landscaping upgrades, like drip irrigation replacements.

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“Typically, multifamily building owners pay for their buildings’ water bills rather than passing on costs to tenants. Without that financial incentive, residents often do not conserve water through behavioral changes,” said Barun Singh, founder and CTO of WegoWise. “WegoWise sees this split incentive issue regularly, and our findings highlight just how much catching up many multifamily buildings need to do as a result.”

“Yet our study also confirms that many California apartment buildings are brimming with untapped efficiency potential,” continued Singh. “Apartment building owners that do implement targeted upgrades can meet statewide goals while lowering utility expenses and boosting cash flow: a pretty compelling incentive. This summer’s initial data indicates increased interest in conservation, and that double-digit savings goals aren’t unrealistic.”

Dramatic savings were often the result of simple measures, such as toilet upgrades. One hotel in East L.A. saved more than 30 percent annually after a toilet retrofit. Community Corporation of Santa Monica, an affordable housing developer, decreased water usage by over 12 gallons/bedroom/day—a 24 percent drop.

The WegoWise study drew upon a database of over 700 multifamily buildings across the state from January 2013 through June 2015. Data includes 21,000 units, almost 32,000 bedrooms and 2.4 billion gallons of water usage over the two-year period.

About WegoWise   WegoWise provides software for more efficient buildings. By automatically integrating a broad range of energy and water data, WegoWise delivers a complete picture of utility use. The intuitive software helps building owners make smarter efficiency decisions that increase cash flow and boost asset value. More than a thousand real estate institutions have added millions to the bottom line with WegoWise. Learn more at

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