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Portland Water Bureau

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The Water Bureau and IRC Aluminum Team Up to Conserve 815,000 Gallons of Water Each Year

What do you call it when Oregon’s largest water provider partners with local businesses to find ways to conserve water and save money? Some might say it’s a pretty BIG deal.

The Portland Water Bureau’s Business, Industry, and Government (BIG) Water Efficiency Program helps businesses find ways to conserve water by diagnosing increases in water usage, finding inefficient or malfunctioning equipment, and helping to improve existing methods and processes.

One local business that’s found ways to save money and reduce water use through the BIG Program is IRC Aluminum & Stainless.

The waterjets at work

IRC Aluminum & Stainless

Located in North Portland’s industrial district, IRC Aluminum & Stainless is a local, family-owned metal distributor providing waterjet cutting services for companies all across the country. IRC’s client list includes machine shops, government and defense agencies, construction companies, and many other heavy industrial groups.

IRC also works with creative groups that build and install commercial and wayfinding signage for large medical complexes, sports stadiums, and universities. The Moda Center? IRC made their exterior and interior signage. The “Silicon Forest” public art at the Interstate/Rose Quarter Yellow Line MAX station? IRC fabricated the station artwork designed by Brian Borrello.

To find out more about this local business’ experience with our BIG Program, we sat down with Jackson Ford, an outside sales representative at IRC Aluminum & Stainless, to ask him a few questions and tour their large industrial facility.

How did you find out about the BIG Program?

Jackson Ford poses with a piece of material cut with the waterjets

An employee of ours contacted the Portland Water Bureau a few years ago about commercial water efficiency incentives offered by the City of Portland. At the time, IRC had designed and constructed a new closed-loop water system to reuse the water that was being circulated through the chillers that cool our waterjet machines.

The new system produced dramatic results almost immediately. After telling our story, the Portland Water Bureau came out to IRC's facility and inspected the new water reuse system. Soon after their analysis, we were invited to join the BIG Program.

Tell us about your experience with the BIG Program? How did the process work for your company?

The Big Program was great for IRC. We have always made it a major priority within our company to be as environmentally friendly as possible. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it also contributes to preserving the state's resources and minimizing our carbon footprint as an industrial company. IRC was eventually presented with an award by the BIG Program for our new water system and its proven efficiency.

How much water are you saving now?

As a result of the newly implemented water system, IRC was able to save and reuse approximately 815,000 gallons of water annually. This equates to about 28% in direct water savings based on our previous operational water use.

Are there any other efficiencies that resulted from the BIG Program?

Since participating in the BIG Program, IRC has entertained many other avenues for constant improvement to our daily operational efficiency, including using less costly and more environmentally friendly backing materials during the cutting process. We also upgraded to more modern and fuel-efficient trucks. Recently, IRC installed new energy efficient lighting throughout our cutting and warehousing facilities.

IRC was able to save and reuse approximately 815,000 gallons of water annually.

What would you say to another business that is thinking about reach out to the BIG Program?

If there are clearly major areas where cost-effective efficient changes can be made, then I would strongly recommend doing so to any small local business.

Often times there may be major expenses and capital improvements associated with making an efficiency upgrade. But they tend to pay for themselves in the long-run. And those savings can make a big impact on your bottom line. The BIG Program is an excellent incentive for companies looking to make a difference for themselves and the City of Portland.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

We’d like to thank the Portland Water Bureau and the BIG Program for giving us the opportunity to showcase our efforts towards water efficiency.

Learn More About the BIG Program

Interested in learning how the BIG Program can help your business save water and money? Visit our Commercial Water Efficiency page for more information, commercial water savings tips, and contact details.


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