Project background

Our client was aware that one of its food production facilities was responsible for a high proportion of the company’s overall water use. To help them see the full picture, we performed a comprehensive utility audit, including water, electricity and natural gas, to assess water and energy end users and identify potential utility conservation measures to help achieve the company’s sustainability goals. We then prioritized the measures based on the highest return on investment through utility cost savings.

Our approach

Under a separate contract, we had previously performed a water use, availability, and risk assessment for the facility. Our multidisciplinary team of engineers reviewed utility invoices and installed equipment lists, and conducted an on-site audit of utility use. The water balance diagrams prepared as part of the water risk assessment provided detailed information regarding water use at the facility. Total usage rates for water, electricity and natural gas, as well as major users of each utility were identified. We also identified utility programs that could be accessed to subsidize implementation of energy efficiency projects at the facility.

We worked closely with the facility’s engineering and operations staff to identify water- and energy-saving opportunities. We prepared a preliminary list of potential utility conservation measures, including operational improvements and capital-driven retrofit projects. The preliminary list was reviewed with the client’s team to solicit input and narrow down the list to seven operational and sixteen capital-driven measures. The measures were scored and ranked based on mutually agreed evaluation criteria and weighting to further narrow the list to six measures for additional review and development.

Conceptual designs, capital cost estimates, and estimated utility savings were prepared for the six selected utility conservation measures. The cost information was used to prepare a return-on-investment analysis to inform the company’s decision-making regarding capital investment priorities. The highest ranked utility conservation measures had payback periods that ranged from 0.5 to 15 years, with potential to save more than 100 million gallons of water annually and achieve significant savings in electricity.

Multi-disciplinary approach

Our team included engineers who specialize in water use and treatment, energy efficiency, and building mechanical systems. Many of the utility conservation measures affected multiple utilities and required coordination among these professionals with varied backgrounds and experiences to optimize the conservation measures.

Communication and collaboration with the project stakeholders

We worked as an extension of the client’s engineering and operations teams. Close collaboration with these teams to review and vet potential utility conservation measures ensured the measures were implementable without jeopardizing the facility’s production requirements.


The results of the utility audit and prioritization of utility conservation measures identified capital investment requirements and provided tangible actions to be taken by the company to achieve their sustainability goals.