Australia’s water efficiency labelling and standards scheme: Summary of an environmental and economic evaluation

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Journal Article
Water Science and Technology: Water Supply, 2020, 20, (1), pp. 1-12
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© IWA Publishing 2020 This paper describes the outcomes of an evaluation of Australia’s Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) scheme. WELS is a national, government-run scheme that mandates water efficiency labelling for indoor water-using fixtures and appliances. The scheme also imposes a minimum standard for some products. The evaluation considered the environmental and economic impacts of improvements in the water efficiency of WELS-labelled products since the scheme’s inception in 2006 and forecast for 20 years. The study estimated water, energy, greenhouse gas (GHG) and utility bill savings as well as the costs associated with the scheme. The evaluation showed WELS to be an important component of urban water management in Australia, saving 112 GL in 2017–18, across the country, and 231 GL/year by 2036–37. The largest economic benefits of WELS came from the energy saving from reduced water heating. Over 30 years, these energy savings are also expected to reduce GHG emissions by a cumulative 53.5 Mt. On average, Australians saved $A42 (US$30) per person per year in 2017–18 due to the water efficiency driven by WELS. Overall, the evaluation shows the WELS scheme to be highly beneficial for Australia with significant net benefits to the present and projected into the future. Key words | cost benefit analysis, energy and greenhouse, stock modelling, water end-use
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