Water conservation can serve as an integral part of corporate sustainability practices, or the “greening” of a business.
Many often think of “greening” as a technique that focuses on energy savings, but it is important to not forget the importance of saving “blue.” Not only is water a limited natural resource, but there is also a fundamental water-energy connection.
The treatment and delivery of water require a great deal of energy, but it takes a lot of cooling water for energy production too. The electrical power industry is one of the greatest consumers of water, using more than 200,000 million gallons of water per day, according to the most recent U.S. Geological Survey for water.
Saving Water is Good for Business
Environmental issues are becoming increasingly important to businesses, as customers are becoming more environmentally savvy. In fact, as reported in the UN Global Compact-Accenture CEO Study: A New Era of Sustainability, in 2008, 91 percent of consumers said they had bought a product or service from a company they trusted—showing a direct correlation between profits and public image.
Being an active water steward is one more way to enhance a company’s image and improve employee pride and motivation. Besides positive PR, an organization will benefit from cost savings, including lower maintenance and equipment replacement costs, in addition to reductions in energy and water bills.
Ways Businesses Use Water
The ways a business may use water are as varied as the types of businesses that use it. Is the organization a simple office setting or a manufacturer? A food processor, school, hospital or motel? All have different ways of using water, from simple bathroom and kitchen use to cooling towers, landscape irrigation, water purification, scrubbers or rinsing processes. Water use may range from a few thousand gallons a month to millions of gallons.
Ways Businesses Can Save Water
Simple steps can be taken like fixing leaks, installing low-flow showerheads, installing high-efficiency toilets, xeriscape landscaping and recycling process water. However, the best savings will occur if a business creates a water management plan.
Three best practices for all organizations:
- Have a goal to save water
- Identify and implement water efficiency measures
- Monitor savings and progress
Donna DiFrancesco is a Conservation Specialist with the City of Mesa, Environmental & Sustainability Division where she educates Mesa, Arizona residents about xeriscape, water conservation, living green, and sustainability. She is also a member of the Water – Use It Wisely regional campaign steering committee.