Less is More: Global Multi-Site Retailer

By seeing how water is used throughout operations, this global retailer reduced use by 14% and avoided other hidden expenses.


Apana’s client, a global multi-site retailer, has cut water use by 14%, and avoided other costs and protected assets with help from Water Efficiency as a Service. Now deployed across North America and Japan, the solution is guiding efficient operations and protecting water infrastructure like cooling towers, water softeners and irrigation systems from multiple points of failure.

Graph showing 14% decrease in water use.

The journey to fleet-wide deployment began in Mexico. At the time, the retailer’s warehouses were managing water primarily through bi-monthly water bills. Like most places in the built environment, waste events and anomalous use went undetected and undiagnosed for months.

Warehouses in Mexico faced a particular dilemma: excessive water flow increased costs at the wastewater treatment plants. An immediate and practical solution was to eliminate unnecessary water use by optimizing operations and addressing mechanical issues in real time.

The savings were substantial. With their focus on efficiency, the retailer wanted to replicate the gains to the broader fleet of facilities. An expanded pilot in the Southwest not only validated the savings but showed positive impacts for cooling towers, water softeners and other systems common in the United States.

It takes a lot of energy to pump, heat, treat and move water, so if you use less water, you’ll use less energy, and that will lower your water footprint.

– WaterCalculator.org


Phase I

Mexico warehouses were outfitted with the Apana solution. Cloud-based analytics delivered actionable alerts to key operations staff exactly when staff needed to know. Issues were resolved quickly.

In addition, the data provided significant operational insights that allowed unexpected cost reductions and performance benchmarking for future deployments of the Apana solution.

Example: Cost Avoidance

Operational practices could be seen through warehouse water use patterns. Unexpected water use usually indicated a waste event. Frontline staff began to suggest changes that not only saved water, they saved staff time, energy, chemical use and avoided other costs like drain line cleaning and unnecessary service provider visits. Hidden costs became controllable. The payback justified the next phases.

Phase II

A representative sample of locations in the Southwest — including those with landscape irrigation, car washes and cooling towers — were selected for enrollment. The results in the initial U.S. test locations were slightly better than the 20% average savings documented in the Mexico locations.

By the end of 2014, some 30 installations had reduced water consumption 20% year over year, saving over 30 million gallons of water, and achieving a return on investment in under one year.

Example: Waste Elimination

Through real-time monitoring and alerts, the retailer saved 30 million gallons of water across the Southwest U.S. program expansion, equivalent to 40,000 kWh of energy, enough to provide drinking water to 60,000 families for an entire year.1

infographic: 30 million gallons of water saved equals 40,000 kilowatt-hours of energy saved
Equivalent to drinking water for 60,000 families

Phase III

With a successful expansion in the Southwest, the retailer determined the Apana system was detecting waste, improving operational practices and garnering rapid ROI based on avoided costs. The system was paying for itself, so the decision was made to expand the program to additional warehouses.

Utilizing proven processes, Apana integrated the solution into all locations in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico and Japan. Deployment in Australia is underway. Other countries will be added as the retailer continues to expand.

In parallel, a region-by-region rollout of Apana’s landscape irrigation module started. The irrigation module applies the intelligence of Apana’s smart water management solution to landscape irrigation. Irrigation is often a large component of a property’s water use profile.

Example: Asset Protection

The Apana system detected a 45 gallon per minute waste event on the irrigation system. Water soaked into the sandy soil and under the parking lot. Left unchecked, the 65,000 gallons per day would erode the soil and create costly repairs to the parking lot. Prompt notification to the locations. staff avoided a prolonged waste event and the parking lot was saved from destructive erosion and a possible sinkhole.

The Hidden Becomes Visible

Apana’s system detected a 45 gallon per minute waste event on the irrigation system. It was immediately seen, diagnosed, and fixed, saving water and assets.

Graph: The hidden becomes visible


Based on the successful deployments in Mexico and the Southwestern U.S., the retailer expanded Apana’s solution to all other locations in the U.S., Mexico, Canada, Japan and Australia. Waste elimination in the form of water, sewer, energy and other directly avoided costs created a less than one year payback for the entire system.

Waste elimination created a less than one year payback for the entire system.


This global multi-site retailer has realized significant value from global enterprise-wide deployment of Water Efficiency as a Service. The direct savings from waste elimination, coupled with the added benefits of asset protection and cost avoidance, has delivered on the retailer’s core value of sustainable, efficient operations and provided a compelling return on investment. The Apana system is now part of the construction plan of every new facility built in North America and Japan.

Investing in Values

Using their core values as a guide, return on investment was achieved through:

Checklist: Waste elimination, Asset protection, and cost avoidance

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