Did you know that cleaning water actually takes a lot of energy? In fact, drinking water and wastewater systems account for approximately 3 to 4 percent of total energy use in the United States, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
At AlexRenew, it takes 20 Btu of energy to treat each gallon of dirty water we receive. We use about 250 billion Btu per year, which is close to 3000 times more energy than the average home. You can imagine that our energy bill is pretty high! That is why every energy saving measure we implement helps the environment and controls costs.
Since 2008, we have reduced our annual energy consumption by 41 billion Btus or 17%. We are also participating in the Department of Energy’s Better Plants program with the goal of reducing our energy intensity by at least 25% over the next 10 years.
In the process of cleaning dirty water, we also produce methane gas that we use to heat our buildings and fuel our boilers. Last year we generated more than 150 million cubic feet of renewable methane gas — enough energy to power 1,800 Virginia homes for one year. In fact, we offset purchased energy by 32% using gas produced in our digesters!
Some specific ways AlexRenew saves energy include:
- Constantly optimizing our treatment processes to minimize chemicals, pumping, and energy costs.
- Designing facilities and selecting equipment with energy conservation in mind.
- Using innovative wastewater treatment processes, such as mainstream and sidestream deammonification. These processes help offset increasing operation costs because they require fewer resources than conventional options.
- Harnessing renewable energy. For example, the solar panels installed on our Environmental Center are expected to provide at least 40% of the building’s energy.
- Buying green supplies, from hybrid vehicles to green seal certified cleaning products.
- Requiring sustainable construction practices, emission controls, and waste minimization.
- Leveraging technology and teleconferencing to save over 6,500 pounds of carbon emissions to date – the equivalent of taking 7 cars off the road for an entire month.