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Understanding Fundamental Phenomena Affecting the Water Conservation Technology Adoption of Residential Consumers Using Agent-Based Modeling

1
Zachry Department of Civil Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843, USA
2
Luskin School of Public Affairs, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA
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School of Computing and Information Science, Florida International University, Miami, FL 33199, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2018, 10(8), 993; https://doi.org/10.3390/w10080993
Received: 30 May 2018 / Revised: 2 July 2018 / Accepted: 23 July 2018 / Published: 27 July 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Centralized versus Decentralized Urban Water Systems)
More than one billion people will face water scarcity within the next ten years due to climate change and unsustainable water usage, and this number is only expected to grow exponentially in the future. At current water use rates, supply-side demand management is no longer an effective way to combat water scarcity. Instead, many municipalities and water agencies are looking to demand-side solutions to prevent major water loss. While changing conservation behavior is one demand-based strategy, there is a growing movement toward the adoption of water conservation technology as a way to solve water resource depletion. Installing technology into one’s household requires additional costs and motivation, creating a gap between the overall potential households that could adopt this technology, and how many actually do. This study identified and modeled a variety of demographic and household characteristics, social network influence, and external factors such as water price and rebate policy to see their effect on residential water conservation technology adoption. Using Agent-based Modeling and data obtained from the City of Miami Beach, the coupled effects of these factors were evaluated to examine the effectiveness of different pathways towards the adoption of more water conservation technologies. The results showed that income growth and water pricing structure, more so than any of the demographic or building characteristics, impacted household adoption of water conservation technologies. The results also revealed that the effectiveness of rebate programs depends on conservation technology cost and the affluence of the community. Rebate allocation did influence expensive technology adoption, with the potential to increase the adoption rate by 50%. Additionally, social network connections were shown to have an impact on the rate of adoption independent of price strategy or rebate status. These findings will lead the way for municipalities and other water agencies to more strategically implement interventions to encourage household technology adoption based on the characteristics of their communities. View Full-Text
Keywords: agent-based modeling; water conservation; technology diffusion; social networks agent-based modeling; water conservation; technology diffusion; social networks
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Rasoulkhani, K.; Logasa, B.; Presa Reyes, M.; Mostafavi, A. Understanding Fundamental Phenomena Affecting the Water Conservation Technology Adoption of Residential Consumers Using Agent-Based Modeling. Water 2018, 10, 993.

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