Greenspace: Program savings is more than a drop in the bucket

Alexis M. Troschinetz Clean Energy Resource Teams Behavior Change and Metrics Coordinator University of Minnesota's Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships & Extension

Water is energy. To save the former is to save the latter as well.

To help businesses and even residential users save those resources, the Minnesota Clean Energy Resource Teams are bringing back the Minnesota Water-Saving Bulk-Buy Program.

The program, which ran in 2011 as well, offers low-flow aerators and sprayers to businesses at little cost, allowing those businesses to save water and money.

More than 70 participants used the program in 2011, said Alexis Troschinetz, behavior change and metrics coordinator for MN CERTs. Those participants used the assistance to install a variety of the devices, saving an estimated 13.5 million gallons of water and enough energy to heat 90 Minnesota homes for a year. The cumulative financial savings of the program was $180,000 per year.

"We're hoping to do at least that many if not more in 2013," Troschinetz said. "We want to double the participants."


Most participants, she said, are commercial users, such as restaurants, schools, hospitals or churches — really any business that uses a lot of water in a kitchen setting. That said, anyone can apply.

"Businesses get more value," Troschinetz said. That's because a flat-rate shipping cost makes bulk orders more cost-effective. "Maybe a bunch of homes making a group order would get the same savings," she said.

Getting the sprayers or aerators is easy. Log on at MN CERTs , select the items you want and order them. While the cost will depend on the specific items you choose and the quantity, those prices are greatly reduced from the costs outside the program.

People's Food Co-op in Rochester took part in the 2011 program, ordering three sprayers for its kitchen and prep room.

"We had done work upgrading our lighting system to use less energy," said Karla Meyer, grocery manager at the People's Food Co-op. "We were working with RPU and contacted them to find out ways to make our store more green friendly."

Meyer initially was concerned that the low-flow sprayers would not produce enough water pressure to do the cleaning work the store needed.

"We were kind of surprised that we were able to do what we need to do even better," Meyer said.

The new sprayers really do save water, filling a container only about half as fast as the old sprayers.


"But it's not taking us longer to get done what we need to get done," Meyer said.

She was also surprised at how simple the program was to participate in. There were not a bunch of forms or red-tape — just log on and get the equipment, she said.

Payback in the program is estimated within just a month or two, Troschinetz said. A single spray valve saves about $450 a year and aerators save roughly $150 annually.

"This is a low-cost investment with a big return," she said.

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