Applying exergy analysis to rainwater harvesting systems to assess resource efficiency

M. Violeta Vargas-Parra, Gara Villalba, Xavier Gabarrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


In our continued effort in reducing resource consumption, greener technologies such as rainwater harvesting could be very useful in diminishing our dependence on desalinated or treated water and the associated energy requirements. This paper applies exergy analysis and exergetic efficiency to evaluate the performance of eight different scenarios of urban rainwater harvesting systems in the Mediterranean-climate Metropolitan Area of Barcelona where water is a scarce resource. A life cycle approach is taken, where the production, use, and end-of-life stages of these rainwater harvesting systems are quantified in terms of energy and material requirements in order to produce 1 m3 of rainwater per year for laundry purposes. The results show that the highest exergy input is associated with the energy uses, namely the transport of the materials to construct the rainwater harvesting systems. The scenario with the highest exergetic efficiency considers a 24 household building with a 21 m3 rainwater storage tank installed below roof. Exergy requirements could be minimized by material substitution, minimizing weight or distance traveled. © 2012 Elsevier B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-59
JournalResources, Conservation and Recycling
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2013


  • Environmental impact
  • Exergetic efficiency
  • Exergy analysis
  • Rainwater harvesting
  • Resource consumption


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