Water efficiency in Malaysian commercial buildings: a green initiative and cost–benefit approach

Farhana Mohd Zaini, Qi Jie Kwong*, Lynne Barbara Jack

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The demand for potable water increases with population growth, given its role in sustaining life. As part of a wider approach to ensuring sustainable provision, this has prompted a number of carefully formulated water efficiency improvement plans for buildings, one of the highest water-consuming sectors. This paper presents a detailed analysis of water efficiency potential for a multi-storey commercial complex and an office building in central Malaysia. Design/methodology/approach: In this study, a detailed analysis of the water use and efficiency of the water fittings was carried out. Important data such as historical water use and details of water fittings were acquired during a field survey. A series of water flow rate tests were conducted at the selected buildings and each of the water systems was analysed separately, using the criteria of water efficiency stipulated by a locally applied green building tool. A comparison of water consumption before and after the improvement plan was then made. Findings: Findings from the field surveys indicate that only some of the water fittings were certified with recognised efficiency ratings, which suggests a good opportunity for improvement. The proposed replacement of more-efficient fittings could potentially improve the obtainable green credit points by at least 10 from a maximum of 15. A cost–benefit analysis for a water fitting replacement scheme shows that the estimated payback period is less lengthy for the larger commercial building due to the higher potential savings. Practical implications: Strategies for improvements in water efficiency for existing non-residential buildings are provided in this paper. The same water consumption analysis procedure can be used by maintenance engineers and other practitioners in building assessments where water efficiency and sustainability in building operation are of concern. Originality/value: This case study responds to the need for efficient use of freshwater and provides insight into the water efficiency opportunities for commercial buildings. The potential cost savings for replacements of inefficient water fittings have been analysed using a green building tool as a guide. This has not been extensively analysed in previous studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)702-719
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Building Pathology and Adaptation
Issue number5
Early online date27 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2021


  • Buildings
  • Cost–benefit analysis
  • Green building
  • Water efficiency
  • Water fittings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction


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