By Megan Porter
California’s historic drought has put water usage at the forefront of the public mind, with Governor Jerry Brown declaring a state of emergency and calling for a 25% reduction in water usage. To implement the governor’s directives, the State Water Resources Control Board established emergency water conservation regulations that direct urban water suppliers, their customers and Californians to reduce water use and waste. In July 2015, California residents were able to exceed the 25% statewide target by slashing water usage by 31%.1
This is the fourth straight month that Californians were able to either meet or exceed the goal. Water conservation isn’t just a civic duty for California businesses. It also makes financial sense now and in the long term.
Instituting a concerted effort to conserve water can not only increase your business’s green profile, it can save significant money in operating costs over time. Below, you’ll find several strategies businesses can use to reduce water usage, increase employee involvement and ultimately save money.
Start by determining average usage
The first step toward reducing water use is to conduct a water usage audit to work as a benchmark. Conduct a water audit to collect data at the front and determine current water usage. Many local water agencies often offer a water audit – some free of charge. They will inspect your facility and provide recommendations for savings, including rebates for replacing inefficient appliances and equipment.
Factor in all the cost advantages
The most straightforward way to start reducing water use is to replace older equipment with newer, water efficient models. Toilets and urinals, shower heads, low-flow faucets, washing machines, dishwashers and pre-rinse spray valves are just a few examples where daily water use can be reduced.
Be sure not to overlook ways you can get financial assistance to help pay for these green business upgrades, too. Energy efficiency financing initiatives are available to reduce or even eliminate the up-front costs associated with upgrading equipment by factoring the expected energy savings over time. Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E) On-Bill Financing program is one such example. This energy efficiency project funding option provides non-residential PG&E customers the means to implement money and energy saving technologies and equipment .The zero-percent interest rate makes energy efficiency an affordable reality.2
And, of course, water conservation doesn’t just save money on the water bill. Depending on where a business is located, lower water bills also mean lower sewer utility costs as well.
Involve employees in the plan
Water conservation is one of the easier concepts for employees to grasp and immediately start working to implement. That makes it a prime candidate for conservation programs.
One approach is to start a sustainability competition to engage employees in the ongoing process of water conservation. It’s a great way to make water conservation fun and for employees to get recognition for their efforts, an important motivating factor.
Replace, reuse and recycle fresh water sources where feasible
Recycled water or water from condensers is far more sustainable than using “fresh” municipal water. You can use non-potable water for cleaning, rinsing, spraying sidewalks, etc. When possible, replace water-cooled equipment with air-cooled equivalents.
Good for California, good for your business
Focusing on water conservation is vital for California’s future, and it can be a positive for your business’s future, too. Download PG&E’s“25 Money-Saving Tips for Businesses” for more ideas and strategies.