Lowe’s is reducing water use, boosting operational efficiency and saving money with new smart irrigation controllers at more than 900 stores across the country. The home improvement giant installed AT&T HydroPoint technology to reduce water use for store landscaping and is saving about 650 million gallons of water per year, for a total annual reduction in water costs of about $5 million.
And, because water treatment and pumping is so energy intensive, the technology is reducing carbon emissions by almost 750 metric tons a year, the company says.
Lowe’s director of facilities Jay Clement says that in 2014, the company worked with its sustainability team to identify investments like smart irrigation technology that would increase efficiencies while reducing the company’s environmental impact.
How Smart Irrigation Works
The EPA estimates that as much as 50% of water used for irrigation is wasted because of evaporation, wind or runoff caused by inefficient irrigation methods and systems. To counter that, Lowe’s invested in the HydroPoint technology because it uses detailed weather data, transmitted via Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity, to identify the optimal time and amount of water needed for irrigation. HydroPoint analyzes over 8 million weather data points from around the world – including from weather stations, aircraft, radio buoys, and weather sensors – and develops a model that calculates temperature, wind, humidity and solar radiation across the continental US and Hawaii. This is a more accurate way to calculate landscape water needs than by using temperature alone, which can lead to overwatering by as much as 43%, AT&T says.
Additionally, individual Lowe’s stores can now detect leaks in real-time and manage water usage instantly, via cloud-based water management systems.
Lowe’s piloted HydroPoint in 2008, added a few hundred stores by 2010, and recently reached 939 locations. Water savings were calculated using Lowe’s water usage data before and after installation of HydroPoint Smart Controllers.
AT&T adds that it has saved millions of gallons of water at its own operations by using the technology. The company says the technology leads to average water use reductions of 16% to 59%.