Anglian Water supplies a staggering 1.2B litres of drinking water to 4.2M customers every day, via 140 water treatment works and 37,000 kilometres of water mains.

As a water supplier the health of the environment is central to the company’s success – climate change is a major risk, as drought and flooding both impact on operations, and the business is based in the part of the UK most vulnerable to the changes wrought by climate change.

“Something like 20% of the land area in East Anglia is below sea level,” says energy manager Matthew Pluke. “So rising sea levels are a significant risk for the company generally, particularly as some of our assets are located near rivers and the coast.”

Anglian is also a significant consumer of energy, in fact it is one of the largest energy users in the east of England, accounting for 12% of operating costs.

Around 90% of the company’s carbon emissions relate to consumption of electricity, gas and fuel oil (including for transport).

With such a direct relationship between the company’s success and the need to minimise environmental impacts, sustainability has become key to investment decision-making.

Pluke says: “It couldn’t be more central. At a strategic level, our two biggest challenges are growth – East Anglia is one of the fastest growing regions in the UK – and climate change.

“Any investment that goes forward into asset creation, for example building a sewage treatment works or pumping station, we will baseline in the amount of embodied and operational carbon we think will result and try to minimise it in the design process.”

Pluke says he has been “blessed” in his role as energy manager with directors fully engaged in the need to reduce carbon emissions.

“Pressure comes very much from the top,” he says.

“We want to be leading in this area and one of the things that has made the biggest difference is that top-level support from the board.”

The attitude that the carbon challenge is a cost rather than an opportunity has changed, he believes.

“Time and time again when we do the right thing around the environment and carbon the costs come down,” Pluke says.

“Carbon emissions relate to energy, and energy is expensive. So if you’re driving down energy consumption in your business, whether it’s in the assets you build or day-to-day operations, you’re driving down cost, and you’re cutting carbon.”

For Anglian, that means a company that is “intolerant of the attitude” that you can either have a good business decision or a good sustainability decision.

Pluke says: “So would we be willing to pay more for a low-carbon solution? We want both. From both the directors and the investment groups making the decisions there is no tolerance for us saying you can have one thing or the other, we have to demonstrate a way of delivering value-for-money and environmental performance.”

As part of its operations, Anglian Water collects approximately 960M litres of waste water through a network of 43,751 kilometres of pipes connected to 1,106 wastewater treatment works.

Waste water is treated and returned to the environment via rivers and the coast. Organic waste is treated, dried and used in agriculture as fertiliser.

However, the company says: “Each drop of water comes with plenty of carbon dioxide attached. Our Drop CO2 campaign is about halving our embodied carbon and reducing our operational carbon in real terms.”

Reductions in CO2 emissions and energy costs are achieved through a variety of routes, including: an Energy Initiative, with a primary focus the delivery of energy efficiency projects; Sustainability in Design – reducing carbon in Anglian’s capital investment programme; Renewables; Supplier Engagement; Transport Initiative; Process Emissions; and Water Efficiency and helping customers to deliver water and carbon efficiencies.

The Energy Initiative alone aimed to save £10M in energy costs by 2009/10. In fact, the firm achieved savings of over £11M – saving over 50 gigawatt hours of electricity and over 27,000 tonnes of CO2.

The initiative typically delivers between 100 and 200 efficiency projects a year. For example, at the Trowse Main Sewage Pumping Station, £236,000 was invested in new pumps delivering annual energy savings equal to £61,400 every year.

And at the Mumby Wastewater Treatment works, £3,500 was invested controlling flow and pressure, delivering annual energy savings equal to £5,300 every year.

Pluke says: “Everybody and anybody who can help meet our sustainability goals – we want to work with them.”

Snapshot: Anglian Water

Turnover: £1.412B (year to 31 March 2011)

Amount invested: Undisclosed, but two examples given: Trowse Main Sewage Pumping Station: £236,000 invested in new pumps delivering annual energy savings equal to £61,400 every year; and Mumby Wastewater Treatment works: £3,500 invested controlling flow and pressure delivering annual energy savings equal to £5,300 every year.

Suppliers: Air Technology (aeration optimisation), Xylem and ABS Pumps (wastewater pumping efficiency), Integrated Water Services (water pump efficiency and borehole pumping), ABB + Drives Alliance (Gibbons Drive Systems and IDS, projective variable speed drives), ABB (power factor correction), Gibbons, IDS, Covelec and Heasells (high efficiency motors) and Environ (office energy, heating and lighting).

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