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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Water Efficiency for Sustainable Homes

Suzana De Souza Brandao

Water Efficiency for Sustainable Homes

Climate change, an increase in population, expanding urbanisation and an increasing water demand are factors that have challenged the general belief that the United Kingdom is immune to water scarcity. The existence of water stressed areas, especially the South East region, makes it imperative that measures to save water and to preserve water resources must be undertaken. The housing industry is a key component of the framework required to save and protect water resources. Technology plays an important role in this context, and different systems for saving water have been developed. Nevertheless, there is still a clear gap between the available technology and its wider implementation.

The importance of water as a fundamental resource for life, sustainable development and human dignity is the main motivation for this work, which aims to find the reasons why the effective implementation of the existing water efficient technology has still not occurred in new housing developments within the UK. Moreover, this work seeks to discover the main drivers that will lead to the wide adoption of this technology by the UK house building industry.

To do so, the main players of the house building industry were identified; literature reviews and interviews with key representatives of this system, such as consultants, developers, training institutions, housing associations and water companies, were conducted. The relationships between these players were structured through a systems dynamics methodology. The main barriers identified from this analysis were classified according to the industry’s willingness, opportunity and capacity to implement an innovation-based strategy. The main drivers for water efficiency (regulation, education, environmental stress, increasing costs of water supply, tax incentives and public funding) are detailed at the last chapter of this thesis. This work also proposes a series of government responses in order to increase the adoption of water efficient technology in new housing developments within the UK.

The overall conclusion that can be made from this research is that concrete possibilities of economic savings, the involvement of different sectors of the society to reach a common objective, and undeniable environmental gains make the adoption of water efficient technology viable in the analysed context.



Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.