The global water crisis continues to evolve in profound ways. For Hunter to be part of the solution, we must show that we are using water wisely by “walking the talk.” Doing so is critical for our reputation and leadership across all sectors of the irrigation industry. Lowering our water consumption will also help us mitigate future cost increases as the demand for water rises and meet the needs of customers who want water-wise irrigation solutions.
Our total water consumption has increased over time alongside the growth of our organization. In 2019, we began reversing that trend. Our Tijuana and San Marcos facilities reduced their water usage over the previous year by 11% and 15%, respectively. To understand how we can improve, we are committed to implementing enhanced tracking measures and identifying new opportunities to conserve.
Stopping Water Waste in Clermont
In 2019, we installed water meters at our Clermont facility to gather more granular data. Through this process, we identified leaks in the campus kitchen and the regulator department, both of which contributed to higher water-use numbers. We are now investigating technology that would automatically shut off the water if a leak is detected.
A New Way to Save Water in Tijuana
At our Tijuana facility, engineers found an innovative way to reduce the use of municipal potable water in our testing tanks. Inside these tanks, water must be kept cold for products to be properly tested. Previously, water was drained frequently to meet the temperature requirements. In 2019, our team identified an opportunity to reuse water from on-site chillers to help fill the test tanks. Using pipes to connect the chillers to the test tanks, the team saved 1.9 million gallons of water annually, with resulting savings of nearly $27,000. Thanks to this innovative approach, 22% of the water used in the test tanks is now recycled water from the chillers.
Achieving a zero-waste certification by 2030 requires at least 90% of our waste to be diverted from landfills. We initiated steps in 2019 to develop an accurate baseline for gauging progress.
In 2019, we started reviewing historical waste data and diversion calculations from our San Marcos campus and trying to capture waste data from our newer facilities. Our findings have shown that we have challenges to overcome in this area.
Looking ahead, we will revamp our processes to ensure accurate reporting. In the meantime, our employees continue to find ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle waste. For example, we reduced consumption of office copy paper by 6% between 2018 and 2019.
Partnering to Provide Job Opportunities and Keep Electronic Waste out of Landfills
We launched a pilot program in 2019 with national distributor Ewing Irrigation & Landscape Supply to keep expired irrigation controllers out of landfills. To help us in our efforts, we partnered with Blue Star Recyclers, a nonprofit organization that creates jobs for people with autism and other disabilities by recycling electronics and other e-waste. So far, we have recycled almost three tons of discarded irrigation controllers and helped pay for six days of employment for one Blue Star team member.
As a socially responsible company, we know that reducing energy use and minimizing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is the right decision for our business.
Ensuring maximum energy efficiency helps mitigate future cost increases. Our customers are also looking for environmentally friendly products that save energy. We want to be responsive to market demands related to this important issue. Worldwide scientific observations show that climate change is happening. We want to ensure we are part of the solution by reducing our GHG emissions.
Our purchased electricity consumption at our San Marcos campus is offset by solar arrays. In 2019, the arrays generated over 715,000 kWh and saved us more than $220,000 in purchased electricity costs. Producing our own power helps minimize the energy lost in transmissions. Our long-term goal is to increase our solar production capabilities and implement additional alternative energy technologies across all our campuses.
As part of our CSR commitments, we are also working on an enhanced GHG inventory and target. We want to be sure we are setting our GHG goal based on accurate data and following proper protocols. We look forward to reporting on our GHG emissions plan in our 2020 report.
Thinking Globally and Acting Locally with the Strategic Energy Management (SEM) Program in San Marcos
Hunter participates in an incentive program for large SDG&E industrial customers. As part of this initiative, we receive coaching on ways to permanently integrate energy management into our business planning. We meet periodically to share ideas and experiences with a cohort of six other companies. Since the program began in 2018, we have initiated a range of projects, from reducing compressed air waste in our manufacturing processes to improving HVAC set points in our building automation system.