Glendale has been helping its residents save water and money for 30 years, and is now extending that courtesy to commercial business.
Through the recently launched Glendale Water Efficiency Partner program, the city will conduct water conservation assessments for any commercial water customer free of charge.
“Predominantly, all of those years, we’ve been working with single-family customers, and we’ve been working with multi-families and apartments and HOAs, but we really haven’t worked a lot with business customers on efficiency,” said Joanne Toms, Glendale environmental program administrator. “They are becoming a growing part of our customer base, and it’s good customer service for the city to work with these big businesses.”
The Water Services director directed the city’s conservation team two years ago to develop a program to help commercial customers, Toms said.
Since then, the team has been conducting water conservation assessments of city facilities.
“We figured we’d better get our house in order before we then go to businesses and say, ‘Hi, we’re from the government, we’re here to help you,” Toms said.
She said the team found a lot of leaks, specifically with toilets.
“Toilets are big water wasters,” Toms said. “You have to constantly maintain them.” Even with high-efficiency toilets, there’s still a lot of room for improvement.”
Anne Stahley, Glendale water conservation specialist who has been the lead in growing the commercial program, said city facilities have a lot of toilets, which may not be constantly leaking, but can leak when flushed.
“It adds up for sure,” she said.
Through a partnership with Salt River Project and Arizona Municipal Water Users Association, Toms, Stahley and two other city conservation team members have undergone water conservation assessment training. Over the last two years, they have been involved in webinars and listened to guest speakers, and recently participated in water conservation assessment training at three Valley hotels, including the Renaissance Glendale Hotel & Spa.
“AMWUA brought in a professional water efficiency auditor, Michelle Maddaus from Maddaus Water Management Inc. out of California, and what she did was led kind of a train the trainer ‘session,’” Toms said.
Maddaus leads training all over the country, Toms said.
“She’s definitely the crème de la crème,” Toms said. “She’s a great trainer, but she also knows her stuff. It was really good for our self-confidence, going in, going, ‘OK, we can do this.’”
She said the team members have a lot of experience with landscape efficiency because they’ve been doing it for 30 years, but it’s daunting to go into a commercial kitchen or a commercial laundromat.
“What was great about (the training) is when you go to a facility like a hotel, it’s awesome, because you get to see all these different sectors,” Toms said. “So now, we have a lot of confidence going into a Glendale commercial laundromat or a Glendale commercial kitchen.”
Once the assessment is complete, the team compiles an efficiency report for the customer. It’s about four pages long and includes an attachment to make the business aware of any energy rebates it may qualify for.
“It’s a nice way for us to show them that there is that connection, that they can qualify for things like energy rebates,” Stahley said.
Team members strive to make the report clear and prioritized, and then sit down with the customer and discuss feasibility, return on investment, etc., Toms said. Projected water and cost savings are included in the report, as well.
The city will promote the program on its website and through a partnership with Local First Arizona, which is networking with local businesses that are LFA members, Stahley said.
That networking is already paying off for local businesses as LFA emailed its members about the program April 5 and by the next day, Glendale had two requests for commercial water conservation assessments, Toms said.
“If we could just sum up our program, all of us are just helpful people,” Toms said. “There’s no secret agenda. We literally just want to help our customers. We’ve received training on this for the past two years, we’re feeling really confident.”