Water Efficiency Evaluation Service Contracts
To help meet Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 requirements for comprehensive water evaluations of at least 25% of covered facilities each year, Federal agencies may choose to hire a water management firm. A report was developed that includes the essential elements of a well-formed statement of work (SOW) for comprehensive water assessments to assist agencies in developing contracts with water contractors, which includes:
- Project scope
- Contractor qualifications
- Assessment phases
- Deliverables and schedule
- Additional considerations.
For more information on this topic and specific information on SOW model language, download the Template for a Comprehensive Water Assessment Statement of Work.
The scope of a water efficiency evaluation SOW should clearly define the objectives of the water efficiency assessment and set the foundation for the contractor to fulfill the work required. Typically, the purpose of a water efficiency evaluation is to:
- Meet mandated Federal requirements
- Develop a comprehensive understanding of a facility's current water consumption
- Provide direction for future efficiency improvements.
The SOW scope should clearly define all sources of water, including potable and industrial, landscaping, and agricultural water uses. These categories should be treated separately in the assessment and specified as such in the SOW. For more information about Federal requirements, see Executive Order 13514.
If the facility has other site-specific goals beyond Federal water efficiency policy, language that details these water assessment intentions can also be included in the SOW. For example, an objective of the evaluation may be to perform a system-wide irrigation audit. This should be described in the scope of the SOW and also be detailed in the other areas of the SOW.
To ensure the water efficiency evaluation is conducted properly, the SOW should require specific water management qualifications of the assessment team. Often, water evaluations are rolled into energy assessments. It is common for the SOW to clearly define the qualifications required by the energy team while the water portion of the assessment is poorly defined or missing. As a result, a team is formed that focuses on energy but has little or no experience with water-related processes and equipment. The end result can be a poorly executed water evaluation.
Examples of water-related qualifications to include in the SOW are:
Demonstrated past performance at identifying water conservation measures that have resulted in water efficiency projects at Federal installations
Field experience at Federal installations related to water management services that includes a specific length of time working in the water management field (e.g., at least 5 years)
Applicable certifications such as Environmental Protection Agency WaterSense Partner, Irrigation Association Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor, or Accredited Green Plumber through the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials
Demonstrated knowledge of Federal water policy and mandated requirements.
It is important that the SOW define the distinct phases of the water efficiency evaluation. Typically, there are four phases in a comprehensive water evaluation:
- Background, development, and preparation
- Walk-through audits
- Water balance assessment
- Water Efficiency investigation and economic analysis
Phase I: Background, Development, and Preparation
The first step of a comprehensive water efficiency evaluation is to build a strong foundation by collecting background information on the site and preparing for the assessment. This includes gaining a thorough understanding of the goals and intent of the evaluation, forming a team that will perform and support the assessment, and gathering important data to help prioritize the plan.
Phase I should include collecting data on water use, including water and energy bills, operation and maintenance records, facility inventory data, and occupancy information. Baseline water use should be established for potable, industrial, landscaping, and agricultural water uses in this phase of the assessment. The baseline provides a means for the contractor to estimate overall water and cost savings of recommended efficiency improvements. The contractor should also investigate water rates and future water rate escalation that will be used in the economic analysis. Future water rate increases can be obtained from the municipal provider. When not available, potential future rate increases can be estimated through a FEMP study that developed annual water rate escalation across the United States. For more information about the study, see Water Cost Escalation Rates Analysis.
In this phase of the assessment, the contractor should establish a strong relationship with facility staff, working very closely with key staff members at the facility who has a working knowledge of water-consuming equipment and an understanding of the interconnected issues regarding water supply and wastewater discharge. The team may include members from organizations such as engineering, environmental, facility management, maintenance, janitorial, and plumbing.
Phase II: Walk-Through Audits
The second phase of the evaluation allows the assessment team to gain a full understanding of the water-using equipment and processes. A minimum requirement of the walk-through audit phase in the SOW should be to gather enough data to estimate the equipment's current water consumption. This information typically includes equipment flow rate, operation schedule, equipment condition, and model number. The assessment team may install a temporary meter on a piece of equipment, process, or building to obtain an accurate picture of water use and trends. Therefore, the SOW should include provisions that allow submetering.
The auditors should also investigate initial ideas for water efficiency opportunities and identify opportunities to access alternate water sources (such as grey water, rainwater harvesting, and air conditioning condensate capture) to offset the use of freshwater sources.
For more information on water auditing see:
- American Water Works Association Water Audits and Loss Control Program Manual 36
- Irrigation Association Irrigation Audit Guidelines
- Alliance for Water Efficiency Resource Library.
Phase III: Water Balance Development
The third phase of evaluation is to quantify water use of equipment and processes using the data gathered in Phases I and II of the assessment. The result of this phase is a water balance that compares the total water supplied to the total water used at the end-use level (Figure 1). The water balance identifies the largest water consumers and can also identify problem areas, such as high leak rates or inefficient applications. If a site has industrial, landscaping, and agricultural uses of water, which typically consume non-potable sources, a separate water balance should be developed for these supplies and uses and specified in the SOW.
Phase IV: Water Efficiency Investigation and Economic Analysis
The fourth phase of the evaluation is to identify cost-effective water efficiency opportunities. The core objective of a facility water assessment is to help the facility identify areas for water efficiency improvements, and ultimately to provide the framework for water reduction. Opportunities that are assessed by the contractor should include recommendations on efficient technologies and processes as well as the use of alternate water sources such as water reuse, grey water, rainwater harvesting, and wastewater reclaim, where appropriate. The assessment can also provide recommendations on applications and processes that would benefit from sub-metering. The contract should specify the type of economic analysis required by the contractor, such as life-cycle cost analysis. For more information, see Sustainable Buildings Life Cycle Cost Analysis.
Deliverables and Schedule
Identifying key deliverables that are expected of the contractor and the time needed to accomplish these deliverables is critical to a sound SOW and a successful assessment. The evaluation should provide interim deliverables that can be used to measure progress. A final report should be required that provides key information the facility needs to accomplish its objectives or meet requirements. The final report may be the most important deliverable because it presents the ultimate results of the water evaluation and provides efficiency recommendations and actionable projects.
To expedite high quality work from the water management firm, consider including the following elements in the SOW as part of the water evaluation contract:
Allow a voluntary pre-bid walk-through of a sample facility to give contractors a feel for the scope of the assessment.
Include enough time in the solicitation process to fully address questions from contractors bidding on work (this will ensure that there is an adequate pool of contractors from which to select).
Incorporate a mechanism for contractors to receive technical feedback through the contracting officer at the installation in the pre-award and post-award phases of the project (to make sure the contractor understands the needs of the installation).