Retrofitting Showerheads in Dalhousie University Residences: A Cost-Benefit Analysis
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With the human population expected to double by 2027, resource depletion has increasingly becoming a cause for concern. Only 2.5 percent of the earth’s water supplies are classified as fresh, and even less is accessible. Water conservation, through demand management, is therefore an essential element to sustainable communities. According to Environment Canada, retrofitting inefficient water fixtures can reduce consumption by 40 percent (Environment Canada, 2008). For this study a cost-benefit analysis was conducted to determine the feasibility of replacing the existing showerheads in two of Dalhousie University’s residence buildings, Howe Hall and Shirreff Hall, with low-flow models. Both the economic and environmental implications of such a retrofit were taken into account. Three main research tools were used to gather information for the cost-benefit analysis: face-to-face interviews, direct measurement, and document analysis. The study found that Howe Hall would save $8,371.66 in the first year and $9,929.93 in subsequent years by switching to low-flow showerheads with a flow rate of 5.7 lpm. The payback period would be less than 2 months. In addition, 6,276,822 litres of water would be saved per school year. Shirreff Hall would save $11,915.92 in the first year following the retrofit and $12,784.69 in subsequent years, with a payback period of less than 1 month. Meanwhile, 8,081,344.13 litres of water would be saved per school year. These results indicate that the benefits of replacing existing showerheads in these buildings would noticeably outweigh the costs. It is therefore recommended that both Howe and Shirreff switch to low-flow showerheads as soon as possible. It is also hoped that the findings of this study will contribute to a campus wide effort to reduce water consumption at Dalhousie, and thus be an integral part of the Greening the Campus movement.