Roughly 98 percent of the environmental impact of pumps and mixers is related to energy consumption in the usage phase. That’s why one of Xylem’s priorities is finding ways to make our products more energy efficient. Efficiency breakthroughs will not only help users save energy and decrease costs, but they will also help create a more sustainable planet.
Our product development process includes a step in which we evaluate new products from a sustainability perspective — considering recyclability, use of less harmful materials, energy efficiency and other factors. By considering sustainability early in the design phase, we are better positioned to make products in a more energy- and cost-efficient manner — something that is not always possible later in the process.
Creating More Efficient Products
Gains in product energy efficiency often are seemingly small — perhaps only a fraction of a percent of improved performance. But over the product’s lifetime and multiplied by the number of products sold, these improvements can have a tremendous impact. We track the average efficiency of sold products to measure our progress on this front. In 2016, the average efficiency of product lines that make up more than 40 percent of our revenues was 61.2 percent, nearly flat with the 61.6 percent in 2015, reflecting a change in our product sales mix. Our 2016 performance represents a 2.6 percent improvement since 2012.
Xylem’s Flygt Concertor is the world’s first wastewater pumping system with
We also pay close attention to our Vitality Index — the percentage of total sales from products launched in the last five years. Improving our Vitality Index is not only an indicator of how well we are meeting customer needs, it also means we’re successfully selling products that are more sustainable, as new products are almost always more energy efficient. As of the end of 2016, our Vitality Index was 19 percent, an increase from 18 percent in 2015. Following our acquisition of Sensus, we increased our Vitality Index 2020 goal from 25 percent to 30 percent.
In early 2016, Xylem announced a research collaboration with the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, an independent, research-driven, graduate-level university in Abu Dhabi. The collaboration is designed to establish sustainability indicators, such as energy and cost performance of processes and equipment for local water, wastewater and water transport and treatment facilities. This year-long study will develop key performance indicators (KPIs) to help policymakers and regulators make informed decisions on specifications for wastewater technologies and processes. The project will also help achieve targets to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions for the transport and treatment of wastewater in the most cost-effective way.
World’s First Smart Wastewater Pump
Flygt ConcertorTM is a prime example of Xylem innovation at work. Unveiled in 2016, it is the first wastewater pumping system with integrated intelligence. The system senses the operating conditions of its environment and automatically adapts to deliver optimal pumping performance without clogs. It reduces overall cost of ownership and consumes considerably less energy than other pumps — a major step toward making the wastewater sector more sustainable.
The system was awarded the Most Innovative and Groundbreaking Product award at the VandTek Fair in Denmark, the Best Product award at the Accadueo International Exhibition in Italy and the Best Product award at the iWater International Integrated Water Cycle Show in Spain. In early 2017, the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority became the first water utility in North America to employ Flygt ConcertorTM.
Field tests conducted around the world have validated significant benefits that Flygt ConcertorTM delivers, including:
- Energy savings of up to 70 percent, compared to a conventional pumping system, by consistently operating at the lowest possible energy level;
- Reduced inventory of up to 80 percent due to flexible performance;
- A built-in sump and pipe cleaning function, saving up to 80 percent in vacuum cleaning costs; and
- Compact design, reducing cabinet size by up to 50 percent compared to conventional designs.
Optimizing Our Industry
Xylem focuses not only on improving the efficiency of our own products, but also on how we can help to improve the performance of the wastewater sector as a whole. Today, the wastewater industry is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, primarily due to the high levels of energy required to transport and treat water using inefficient, outdated equipment. Global management of wastewater results in more than 86 million metric tons of electricity-related emissions — the equivalent of 9.7 billion tons of gasoline.
Powering the Wastewater Renaissance, a report published by Xylem in 2015, revealed that nearly 50 percent of these emissions could be abated at negative cost by investing in readily available advanced technologies. But barriers to adoption remain. Water and wastewater treatment are critical public services, and providers are understandably hesitant to introduce new products when they know that existing ones work — albeit at lower efficiencies. To help change behaviors and protect the environment, Xylem is advocating for innovative financial models and global energy efficiency standards that reward adoption of new products.