Asurvey conducted about six years ago by research analysts at Ethical Corporation found that nearly all the corporate sustainability managers they
questioned believe water conservation — or water efficiency as we use the term today — will become a top priority for businesses in the next five to ten years.
Well, six years later, many of those predictions are
coming true. With the ongoing drought in California and
dry conditions in many other parts of the U.S., businesses are now dealing with this water issue head-on. Very
simply they are finding we can no longer take water for
granted, use as much as we want and pay a very low
price for it to boot.
However, this realization has led to some unexpected — and pleasant — revelations. Many of those companies that have taken significant steps to reduce water
consumption are finding it can prove to be a healthy and
welcome cost savings. “Save money by saving water” is
the foundation for the business case to use water more
efficiently. And while we will discuss other benefits,
let’s focus on the dollars-and-cents issues first with some
Whitbread is the United Kingdom’s largest hospitality company, with hotels and restaurants throughout the
country. In 2010 they decided to install low-flow faucets and showerheads in all of their properties. Initially
they thought this would result in a cost savings of about
$112,000 annually. But to their surprise, it resulted in
a savings of more than $519,000 based on the 2010
exchange rate. A nice pocket of change for any corporation, big or small.
A Portland, OR company that manufactures water-based
inks was using five gallons of water per minute. After
use, most of this was just discharged into the city’s
wastewater. However, a water audit found that they
could recirculate a great deal of this water. They invest-
ed about $6,000 in a system to recirculate the water in
a cooling tower and found they were recirculating 80
percent of the water they use every year, about 2. 5 mil-
lion gallons. They recouped their cooling tower costs in
about two months, and the system has been paying divi-
dends ever since.
A tomato-processing company in California found they
were using 148 billion gallons of water each year for canning their products. They implemented several water-sav-ing strategies that helped decrease this to 58.8 billion gallons. Their water and sewer costs reflected this reduction,
saving them more than $130,000 each year.
What’s interesting is that saving water can result in
other unexpected cost savings. For instance, when it
comes to water, what comes in has to flow out. Sewer
costs, especially for industrial locations, can be high. With