Energy & Emissions

Why It Matters


We require energy to extract and deliver clean and safe water and wastewater services to our customers. Fossil fuel-based energy sources can contribute to climate change through the emission of GHGs. Climate change, especially without mitigation, will likely have implications on our business and our customers through extreme weather impacts that threaten the availability of water supplies and resilience of our infrastructure.

As indicated in a report titled, “Energy-Water Nexus: The Water Sector’s Energy Use”, the treatment and transportation of water represents approximately 4% of all electricity use in the U.S. Most of the energy that water utilities consume is used to pump water. At American Water, approximately 90% of our electricity consumption and more than 80% of our GHG emissions, are related to pumping water. As an energy-intensive utility, it is our job to take responsibility for our energy use and minimize our GHG emissions. The biggest opportunities to reduce our GHG emissions across our business include energy efficiency and responsible vehicle and equipment usage.


Our Approach


We focus our energy use and GHG emissions reduction initiatives on water efficiency across our business. Improving water efficiency can also help reduce energy cost burdens on our customers. We consider renewable energy sources when negotiating power purchase agreements, recognizing that doing so can help to reduce our own costs and contribute to lower global carbon emissions. The nature of our business underscores that long-term environmental benefits often outweigh short-term cost reductions. Therefore, we still consider projects that may have higher costs but provide additional environmental benefits. We also participate in and support energy efficiency and rebate DOWNLOADS programs, such as the EPA’s WaterSense program.

Our strategy towards operational efficiency includes five key components: plan, design, construct, operate and maintain.

  • Plan for efficiency: We consider opportunities to improve energy and water efficiency in our Comprehensive Master Planning process.
  • Design for efficiency: We employ enhanced pump, pressure management, lighting and process design standards.
  • Construct for efficiency: We follow sustainable construction standards and methods.
  • Operate for efficiency: We use enhanced best operating practices, leak detection and repair procedures.
  • Maintain for efficiency: We utilize computerized maintenance management systems and advanced preventative maintenance strategies to optimize performance and reliability of our equipment.


Our Performance


In 2021, American Water refined the existing energy and emissions goal to reduce our absolute scope 1 and scope 2 GHG emissions by more than 40% by 2025 (from a 2007 baseline). Our refinement clarifies our goal to include absolute scope 1 and 2 reduction of more than 40%. We have already achieved an approximate 36% reduction in GHG emissions through December 2020.

We discuss our efforts to minimize our energy use and emissions in more detail in our annual CDP Climate Change Report. In 2019 and 2020, we received a B score for our performance.