How Costco keeps operating costs low by managing water

“Smart water management helps us keep our operating costs low” according to Sheri Files, Costo’s Vice President of Global Sustainability and Compliance, in a recent issue of Costco Connection, Costco Wholesale’s monthly magazine for its 100 million members. 

As Files notes, “water is a precious and limited resource that can’t be wasted.”

The United Nations indicates that water scarcity affects every continent on the planet. The use of water resources has grown at twice the rate of population increase over the past century, and pressure on limited resources continues to grow today.

Corporate social responsibility and the environment

Costco, a leader in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), has chosen to deploy smart water management to meet the demands of its environmental footprint. Costco is committed to sustainability and has put a stake in the ground with its industry leading Sustainability Commitment.

Water management and Water Efficiency as a Service

Today, Costco uses Apana Water Efficiency as a ServiceTM in all of their warehouses in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Japan. The company has a plan to expand to other locations across the globe.

The Apana system helps Costco manage and reduce operational water waste – what gets measured gets managed, as the saying goes. Apana provides Costco real-time data on warehouse water use across its facility portfolio, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. 

Water meters, strategically located on a given property, transmit the water data to a secure cloud-hosted platform, where intelligent algorithms analyze the data. 

When anomalies are detected – a burst pipe underground or behind a wall, a sink left on, an irrigation system watering off schedule – the system sends automated alerts with step-by-step guidance and instructions to find and fix the problem.

Employees can immediately locate equipment malfunctions or leaks. Furthermore, front-line employees are empowered to “see” waste and stop unnecessary water use.

People power

People are most any organization’s biggest asset – the tools Apana provides Costco employees leads to desirable outcomes. For example, proactive maintenance reduces the need for service provider visits to irrigation and cooling systems. And when there is a problem, Apana’s guidance ensures the correct service provider is called the first time. Calling a plumber out when an EVAC system is leaking is both expensive and ineffective. Calling the EVAC service provider first reduces costs and leads to quicker resolution.  

Energy benefits and carbon footprint

In addition to direct water savings, another key benefit of an effective water management program is the energy savings that come from reduced water consumption. Using less water means less energy is used to operate Costco’s water systems. This has the effect of not only reducing Costco’s expenses but also its carbon footprint.

Creating a sustainable future

Managing water effectively is an ongoing process and mission. Conservation efforts are sadly not a “one and done” thing. In the early days of Costo’s Apana implementation, the company found significant 20% and greater reductions in water consumption after installing the system. Opportunities to find and fix inefficiencies were more apparent.  

More recently, as employees have learned to see and spot waste, and Costo’s overall water footprint has decreased, the company has reported ongoing savings of 10% or more annually across its portfolio.

Effective water management and water conservation are necessary for all people and the planet. Costco continues to find value in Apana’s Water Efficiency as a Service and plans to roll the program out to their other locations worldwide. 

Apana is a proud partner with Costco in making a key contribution to sustainability. This impacts not only Costco’s 100 million members, but also the broader communities in which Costco Wholesale operates.