WEF Energy Framework Assessment

WEF Energy Framework Assessment

Mo Rousso, Helio Energy Solutions Founder and COO

The old saying goes, "One man's trash is another man's treasure." In the case of wastewater, what a city flushes is an entire treasure trove of resources: nutrients, water, and energy. The key is developing the infrastructure and a culture, internally and externally, that supports recovering these resources through wastewater treatment facilities. Helio Energy Solutions's WEF Energy Framework Assessment service addresses these objectives.

WEF Energy Framework

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Helio Energy Solutions's WEF Energy Framework Assessment

Helio Energy Solutions participated in the Energy Roadmap Summit workshops on March 28 and 29, 2012, in Raleigh, N.C.  The Water Environment Federation hosted. This summit brought together nearly 40 water and energy professionals with experience in designing, implementing, and operating energy projects at wastewater treatment plants. The goal of the summit was to create a “road map” to help plants increase on-site energy production, reduce energy consumption and focus on overall energy management; all with the aim of promoting wastewater energy reduction.

As a result of our work, WEF developed an energy roadmap.  The Roadmap is a guide for Water Resource Recovery Facilities (WRRFs) to reach energy neutrality and beyond. It is structured in a series of steps that are arranged in six categories to help water and wastewater utilities plan and implement an energy program. The road map is applicable whether WRRFs choose simply to increase energy efficiency or to build a full-scale distributed generation systems. Categories range from technical needs to organizational aspects, and steps are applicable to all sizes of facilities.

The steps are arranged under six topics:

Strategic Management: High-level management policies and practices that lay the foundation for sustainable energy management
Organizational Culture: Implementation of an energy vision to create an organizational culture that values energy efficiency at all levels and supports an energy champion and cross- functional energy team
  • Communication and Outreach: Tools for effective two-way communication with key stakeholders around energy management
  • Demand Side Management: Methods to assess and reduce energy use and energy costs
  • Energy Generation: Tools for utilities to evaluate whether and how to increase onsite renewable energy production and/or investments
  • Innovating for the Future: Guidance for utilities of all sizes to leverage existing research, further in-house innovation and manage risk associated with these ventures

Under the six topics, the steps are organized into levels of progression. The first set of steps enables the organization. The second set integrates energy efficiency and generation into the organization’s structure, culture, communications strategy, and technology. The last set of steps involves optimizing current processes and procedures.

The three 
levels of progression within each topic areas are defined as:

  • Enabling: Planning process, including initiating first steps and launching program components
  • Integrating: Implementation process, including establishing a framework to make widespread adoption within the utility successful
  • Optimizing: Further enhancing and fine-tuning improvements and spreading them outside of the utility

WRRFs are being constantly challenged to improve as a result of more stringent treatment standards, such as biological nutrient removal limits. As a result, in most cases, treating wastewater to a higher standard requires more energy. The challenge is adhering to new water quality regulations while reducing energy costs in doing so.  Wastewater energy reduction, at times, appears as if it is a competing objective.

Everything in a WRRF uses energy, yet anaerobic digestion is generally the only process that generates energy. However, most plants are not using anaerobic digestion because it is not incentivized.

WEF Energy Framework

Technology improvements offer huge potential for energy savings.  In addition to new technologies, there is also a group of proven technologies and retrofits that are easily implemented and offer major areas for savings.

A recent industry report by Black and Veatch highlighted the major obstacles hindering WRRFs from embracing additional energy efficiency measures.  It goes on to summarize:

“Innovation and new technology are highly valued among wastewater utilities, and these tools can be implemented if performance can be demonstrated through pilots or other testing.  But several factors are holding back utilities from fully embracing these advancements – available capital, lack of technical understanding and a perceived apathy at the upper levels of the organization.”

Helio Energy Solutions has created a simple, low cost WEF Energy Framework Assessment service to help utilities understand how their current state of energy programs stack up on the Roadmap Matrix and where the opportunities for wastewater energy reduction exist.  From our Assessment, the Utility will enjoy these takeaways:


  • Develop an understanding of the technologies and behavioral changes available to them to mitigate energy costs and their impact on operations
  • Understand project funding options that do not tax nor require capital expenditures and funds
  • Build organizational momentum around the importance of mitigating energy costs and the energy strategy development process


  • Will have a clearer understanding of their current energy profile
  • Establish goals in essential sustainability and energy topics
  • Receive recommendations for next steps in their energy progression to enjoy wastewater energy reduction

The WEF Energy Framework Assessment Scope of Work is designed to follow the recommended process outlined in the Energy Roadmap:

Using the WEF Energy Roadmap

Helio Energy Solutions’s team of Energy Professionals can deliver the Assessment in as little as one week and at a cost that is budget friendly.  Please contact us to see how we can help you significantly drive down your energy costs.