Project B1-2

Project Team: Arpad Horvath, PI – University of California-Berkeley

Jennifer Stokes – University of California-Berkeley


Project Overview

With existing water infrastructure in many cities reaching the end of its useful life, now is an ideal time to reconsider design and management of urban water systems with an emphasis on resiliency, sustainability, and adaptability to long-term supply and demand changes that may result from climate change, population growth, urbanization, and other factors. Given the long life of infrastructure, it is critical that we proactively perform rigorous analyses to evaluate potential negative consequences as well as co-benefits associated with innovative approaches before investments are made as they may affect society for years to come.

This project will evaluate UWIN-identified urban water innovations using life-cycle assessment (LCA) to assess energy use and emissions within a city/region and the broader economy. LCA, a methodology defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), quantifies energy and resource inputs and environmental outputs associated with a product, process, or system throughout its supply chain, providing a holistic “cradle to grave” (or “cradle to cradle” when “waste” products can be recovered and reused) analysis of design decisions. LCA characterizes tradeoffs associated with technology selection, material and energy consumption, design life, scale, etc. Examples of how LCA has been applied to urban water systems previously include: identification of major contributors to water systems’ energy profile, comparison of the effects of different treatment options, assessment of the impact of changing operational control parameters (e.g., distribution system pressure or pump operation regimes), evaluation of the effects of aging infrastructure (e.g., reduction of leak control/maintenance activities). Some of the past work by Berkeley researchers on urban water system LCA is summarized at

Project B1-2 will apply LCA to the urban water infrastructure in the UWIN case study cities (Fort Collins, CO, Washington, D.C., and others to be determined) to predict performance for the business-as-usual case. These results will provide a benchmark for comparing UWIN technology and management innovations identified and analyzed in Project B1-1.

Furthermore, Project B1-2 provides a link between UWIN and NSF-funded urban water research being conducted by the Reinventing the Nation’s Urban Water Infrastructure (ReNUWIt) Engineering Research Center (, a collaboration between Stanford, UC Berkeley, Colorado School of Mines, and New Mexico State. This connection will allow both teams to maximize synergies, expand knowledge base, avoid redundancies, and leverage industry and policy partnerships to encourage widespread adoption of innovative water approaches.