Water Literacy Framework


A UCalgary PhD student Kulsum Fatima, undertook a project targeted towards water sustainability initiatives on university campuses. The assessment of this project is based on two strategic aspects:

  • The role of Green building certification systems in promoting water specific design strategies (WSDS) at university campuses.
  • The role of publicity in promoting learning and literacy components attached to WSDS.

The study proposes a framework to investigate the prevailing best practices for water literacy implemented at leading universities and to develop recommendations for the UCalgary main campus. This assesses the claims, actual trends, current practices, and learning components contributing to water sustainability. A set of fifty-one university campuses are analysed to identify water sustainability measures achieved that can be used further for dissipation of best practices for campuses who are willing to become more water sustainable.


This study develops a more conscientious and concise understanding towards the implemented water specific design strategies and systems within the prevailing practices and highlights the experiential learning aspect attached to water systems, that are critical to understand as people move through the campus.

Next steps:

An extended framework for future analysis is proposed which will help implement water literacy strategies at the UCalgary campus. It is designed to inform users and induce good water usage behaviours. In doing so, a set of future analysis is proposed based on the recommendations proposed as part of this study, including an experimental setup for on-campus projects with different phases of observation and recording. The different phases are as follows:

  1. Identify existing scenario
  2. Predict savings based on technological advances
  3. Expect savings based on learning components
  4. Estimate savings based on a social game


Fatima also developed a visual component as part of the framework (as seen below).

water literacy framework

This research was funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Sustainable Development Goals.