Pacific Institute

the challenge

Using water more efficiently is easy, but it is sometimes difficult to know how to get started. Most of us don't even know how much water we are using — nor how we could use less. The main difficulty is that our usage patterns are complex. How complex? Well, recall the last time you saw a spreadsheet so intricate that you had to scratch your head, take a sip of water, and sit down with it for a long, long time before understanding it. It's more complex than that.

Yet the Pacific Institute, a world leader in educating the public and policymakers in the uses of water — and how to conserve it — successfully captured all the components of our water use into one super-smart comprehensive model of household water and energy use, calculated in a complex spreadsheet. Their model not only determines water usage, but also the carbon footprint from treating and delivering water to your home, heating and using it, and then treating and disposing of wastewater (all of which require energy).

The challenge they asked Beezwax to solve: make that model interactive for the public, on the web. Make it personalized, meaningful, and easy to use.

the beezwax solution

We started by analyzing the Pacific Institute's entire model, to ensure we fully understood the intricate, multi-layered flow of calculations. In addition to the feat of replicating their model in web-based technologies, we had the added challenge of providing a user interface that would be intuitive and engaging to use.

We then represented these intricate calculations using a carefully chosen set of web programming languages that would ensure the greatest ease and speed of use for any number of simultaneous users.

the success story

The result was a user-friendly online survey that identifies your specific usage patterns, quantifies their carbon footprint, and outputs a customized action plan for how to save water, energy, and money, complete with colorful charts and suggestions of simple changes that can make a big difference.

Pacific Institute was delighted to meet their goal of providing an online calculator, to help everyone fully understand their relationship to our most vital natural resources.

Visit the WeCalc website.