, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 47-72

Building towards water efficiency: the influence of capacity and capability on innovation adoption in the Canadian home-building and resale industries

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Abstract

The pressure on water and wastewater infrastructure in Canadian municipalities continues to rise with the need for increased capacity and upgrades. Demands to extend and maintain municipal infrastructure means that capital costs threaten to swallow municipal budgets. A water efficiency strategy has helped some municipalities to maintain or reduce their residential and commercial water consumption. This demand adjustment then allows the municipality to defer some capital investment. But relying solely on municipal governments to see that water demand policies are implemented, and enforced, is unwise. Government priorities and responsibilities change, citizen interests evolve and funding programs can be cut. Yet the private sector’s contribution to promoting and sustaining residential and commercial water efficiency initiatives remains an untapped opportunity for collaboration. Conventional explanations for this neglect are that the private sector has been slow to embrace efficiency innovations because they are not economically viable and because buyers are not interested. The challenge is how to assess innovative builders and then translate the findings for policy-makers in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario, Canada. This study used qualitative methods to assess the ‘tacit knowledge’ as a critical variable for innovative realtors and builders. We also assessed the legislative environment and the builders’ organizational cultures to generate new and proactive insights for residential water efficiency. By understanding the professionals’ learning processes, their rationale for action, and the organizational cultures in which they operate, more nuanced policy recommendations at multiple levels are possible.