Keywords: water supply, residential infrastructure, life cycle analysis, life cycle energy, life cycle cost, embodied energy, environmental impacts, greenhouse gas emissions, systems simulation, urban development, sustainable development, sustainability, New Zealand, rain tanks
Conventional and alternative water supply systems: a life cycle study
Research on urban development to date has tended to focus on buildings and their performance in terms of associated energy and environmental impacts. Although, many detailed studies of residential buildings have been carried out, these studies usually concentrate on the house itself without consideration of the infrastructure systems. Alternatives to traditional infrastructure systems are necessary due to increasing demand for sustainable development. Life cycle analysis is a tool which is capable of evaluating competing alternatives based on quantification of resource use over the useful life. This paper briefly examines the life cycle performance of reticulated water supply and rain tank systems used for urban residential developments in New Zealand and suggests that current consumption is an impediment to more sustainable choices. The analysis is based on life cycle energy, environmental impact and cost, using computer simulation.