Living in a modern town or building, it is easy to forget that a fundamental factor when choosing a location to live is the availability of drinking water. Settlements are therefore traditionally established near a water supply, but at the same time they need to be dry and safe from the risk of flooding by water. The supply of water and the drainage of waste water is therefore a major design feature of our buildings and towns. Large financial and engineering investments are needed for the systems of collection, storage, treatment, distribution, and disposal of water. The pumping of water necessary in a supply system also requires significant amounts of energy. Humans need a small amount of essential drinking water, but much greater amounts are used for washing and waste disposal in homes, industry, and commerce. According to United Nations Human Development reports, the average daily consumption of water per person ranges from around 40 litres (Nigeria) to over 500 litres (USA); the figure for the United Kingdom being about 150 litres. The total supply of natural water in the earth is enormous and should be adequate for our needs, but local shortages do nonetheless occur, especially when droughts are combined with poor management of resources. Conservation of water used in buildings now plays an important part of strategies and codes for sustainable buildings. The water consumption in a high performance home should be less than 80 litres/person/day.
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