GSI helped the Port of Portland develop a Water Conservation Strategy that integrated water conservation into the Port’s daily operations, business planning activities, maintenance work, and capital improvement projects


Water conservation is essential to the sustainable development and operation of Port facilities. While water and sewer fees continue to increase every year the Port has made substantial progress in successfully incorporating water conservation into its business operations and practices through eliminating waste, improving the efficiency of water uses, and using alternative water sources. However, in order to fully capitalize on the benefits of conservation and enhance the operational efficiency of facilities, the Port wanted to develop a Water Conservation Strategy that integrated water conservation into the Port’s daily operations, business planning activities, maintenance work, and capital improvement projects. To that end, the goals for the Water Conservation Strategy included:

  • Defining strategies to implement water conservation that increase water use efficiency (reduce waste) and reduce operating costs
  • Integrating water conservation considerations in strategic planning and business decision-making
  • Providing the tools and framework to identify, evaluate, and prioritize water conservation activities and optimize potential cost savings
  • Fostering a Port-wide culture that encourages water use efficiency
  • Supporting the Port’s commitment to sustainability

To be successful, the Water Conservation Strategy needed be more than just a mechanism for installing structural water-saving features. It needed to provide a framework of non-structural programs and tools that foster a culture of water conservation.

GSI’s Solution

Working collaboratively with the Port, GSI developed a framework and set of tools to guide the identification, evaluation, and prioritization of water conservation opportunity. This included designing a set of tools and processes to assist in recognizing and evaluating these opportunities.

The team first focused on designing a simplified water auditing program that could be used across the Port facilities to systematically identify and document conservation opportunities that warrant further exploration. These initial ideas were then put into a spreadsheet modeling tool (developed by GSI) that evaluates the potential water and cost savings, operations and maintenance costs, payback period, total cost saving over duration of project, and other business and financial metrics that can be used in evaluating the concept from the business-minded perspective. The modeling tool has the ability to hold and analyze hundreds of water conservation opportunities allowing the Port to sort, rank, and prioritize the opportunities in a variety of ways (i.e., by region across the Port or by type of project [maintenance project, capital project, etc.]).

GSI then completed water efficiency audits and evaluated multiple opportunities at several Port facilities that represented a cross-section of the various Port operations. The results of these evaluations were combined with input from Port operations staff to identify seven primary strategies that will likely be the most successful for identifying and implementing water conservation measures. These strategies include implementing structural changes to facilities and projects to optimize water use; and nonstructural programs and tools that empower employees to integrate water conservation principles into their work. Lastly, GSI gathered and incorporated feedback during the finalization of the Water Conservation Strategy from stakeholder groups from the various Port operation areas on the (i.e., capital improvement program, maintenance group, business office).