Water is essential to manufacturers – whether for powering complex steam processes or use in simple domestic purposes.  It is also a resource that has come under increasing risk in recent years, making it more imperative to reduce water waste. Recognizing this, more manufacturers are expanding their sustainability efforts to include water efficiency and conservation.

There are many challenges to implementing water efficiency measures at a manufacturing facility, such as poor ROIs on water efficiency projects and insufficient data on water use within the facility. However, understanding the true costs of water and assessing water efficiency opportunities can lead to substantial water and energy savings. Starting with basic good housekeeping practices and progressing to more advanced conservation strategies can help to establish a robust water management program.

Top Water Efficiency Measures

  1. Conduct a water balance
  2. Identify and fix leaks
  3. Consider water efficiency in the design and procurement of new systems
  4. Review equipment specifications and adjust water use accordingly
  5. Eliminate once-through-uses where possible, such as for cooling or cleaning

Learn more by reading a Better Plants report, DEVELOPING A CORPORATE WATER MANAGEMENT STRATEGY FOR MANUFACTURERS. Explore additional resources specific to Better Plants partners and connect with the water efficiency-subject matter expert below.


Learn about innovative, replicable water-solutions and best practices implemented by Better Plants Challenge partners.

HARBEC: Water Retention Pond

HARBEC’s Water Retention Pond is a key project supporting the company’s goal to be water neutral, which the company defines as eliminating the use of municipally supplied water for all purposes except drinking and hand washing. This goal will be achieved through a series of water efficiency measures, as well as utilization of the pond, which captures and stores rainwater for use in plant operations.

Nissan: Recylcing Water Using Advanced Filter Strategies

Since the start of production in 1983, Nissan’s Smyrna Vehicle Assembly Plant in Tennessee has built more than 11.5 million vehicles. The Smyrna plant’s paint engineers were searching for ways to reduce water consumption, which is a key part of the manufacturing process. Nissan ultimately invested in water filtration upgrades for four manufacturing systems.

United Technologies Corporation: Global Water Conservation Guidance Document

Water use has long been an important part of United Technology Corporation's (UTC’s) sustainability goals. The company is currently working toward a global target to reduce water use by 40% by end of 2015 and is in the process of setting a new water reduction goal out to 2020. To help meet its ambitious goals, UTC developed a comprehensive internal guidance document that details the company’s global water scarcity assessment, best practices in managing water at individual sites, and water saving case studies.


Downsteam Savings: From Water Efficiency to Energy Savings

This webinar explored innovative measures Better Buildings Challenge partners have taken to improve water efficiency while reducing energy use. United Technologies Corporation, for example, discussed their impressive water reduction goals and best practices in managing water, while also focusing on energy management strategies at diverse manufacturing sites.

Getting Started with Water Efficiency at Manufacturing Facilities

This webinar discusses the steps any manufacturing facility can take to get started with water efficiency.

Subject Matter Expert - Prakash Rao

Dr. Prakash Rao is a Principal Scientific Engineering Associate within the Energy Technologies Area at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California. Prakash conducts research and analysis into the potential for reducing the energy consumption and water use impacts of the U.S. manufacturing sector while maintaining its productivity. To this end, he assists in the development of related technical assistance and deployment activities. This includes analysis of manufacturing water use characteristics and conservation strategies, tools (Navigator) and programs (SEP and 50001 Ready) to increase the uptake of ISO 50001 in the U.S., tools to support advanced measurement and verification techniques (EnPI Lite), and analysis of motor system energy consumption and efficiency potential.  Dr. Rao received his doctorate in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Rutgers University and his bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.

You can reach Prakash with water-related questions at prao@lbl.gov