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A Story of Leadership

The Inland Empire Utilities Agency (IEUA) distinguishes itself every day by consistently implementing its mission to provide water and wastewater services to its customers in an environmentally responsible manner.  In addition, IEUA’s Board of Directors views the Agency’s role much more broadly by leading the region to long-term water and energy self-sufficiency while continually seeking improvements to the region’s environmental quality and economic stability.

In partnership with the communities it serves, IEUA is committed to the following:

• water conservation                                • water recycling
• groundwater management                    • comprehensive biosolids management
• renewable energy                                 • overall environmental stewardship
• energy conservation

Leading by example, the Agency’s Board of Directors approved the use of the LEED design criteria for IEUA’s Headquarters facility to showcase how integrated, sustainably-designed buildings can create a better environment, conserve energy, improve productivity, and contribute to the restoration of historic landscapes.


Since its formation in 1950, IEUA has become a national leader in recycled water, organic composting and renewable energy.

“We’ve tried to be at the leading edge on a variety of fronts … it’s a matter of integrating a green approach to our business practices. That is why the agency built a Platinum LEED ’green‘ building.  IEUA is the first public agency in the country to build to the Platinum standard. We did it because we believe in conservation and knew it was a good business practice. And it is serving as a model for other public agencies throughout the nation,” states Martha Davis, Executive Manager of Policy Development.

General Manager Richard Atwater views the Headquarters building as a “catalyst of visionary and practical achievements.  In setting this standard, it has helped IEUA build environmental awareness with community developers, cities, and customers.”

IEUA has achieved an admirable balance between fostering a creative environment and managing operational risks.  IEUA’s Board and Management are strongly committed to sustainability within the organization.  IEUA’s culture of open communications encourages its staff to continually seek improvement and to propose ideas that will raise opportunities for the organization to operate more efficiently.

cow power


IEUA’s innovative and environmental excellence has resulted in a diverse portfolio of projects and programs. Instead of viewing the region’s dairy manure as a disposal problem, IEUA developed a unique management program that reduces air and water quality impacts from the region’s dairy industry by producing biogas for electricity from dairy manure.  The electricity is used to desalt brackish groundwater, providing a reliable local source of potable water.  In 2005, IEUA sold the first Greenhouse Gas Credits ever generated through "Cow Power" in California. IEUA was also the first to sell renewable energy credits from California cow power.


In addition to participating in multiple regulatory and policy forums, IEUA takes a proactive role in shaping policy at both the local and national level.

As an example, IEUA co-sponsored California's first legislation that authorized "net metering" for energy produced by "cow power", and was the first agency to use the new net metering program.



IEUA believes that there are significant opportunities for wastewater and water agencies to save energy by producing renewable energy, reducing the need for additional electricity from other (mostly fossil) sources and significantly reducing GHG emissions.  IEUA currently self-provides 60 percent of the total energy it uses and has a goal to be 100 percent energy self-sufficient within five years.  IEUA is presently focusing on new solar generation development, additional biogas-fueled generation, and expansion of energy efficiency programs.

Regional water supply leader in recognizing Southern California’s heavy reliance on imported water supplies that use tremendous amounts of electricity to pump water from northern California, IEUA knew it needed to focus on both water and energy as a solution.  IEUA also realized that meeting these challenges would require vision, strong leadership and tough policy decisions.  IEUA met these challenges head on and has set new industry standards for water sustainability and green innovation, and has consistently demonstrated a willingness to explore new strategies with protection of the environment at the forefront of every decision.



IEUA has developed a comprehensive resource efficiency and environmental management strategy that fully integrates and optimizes the region’s water, energy and biosolids.

WaterWater planning

Recycled water from IEUA’s wastewater treatment operations is an essential component of the Chino Basin’s long-term plan to achieve water reliability and security.  IEUA proactively develops the infrastructure needed to deliver all of its recycled water to beneficial uses in the region, and plays an important role in developing policies and programs that encourage use of recycled water for landscape irrigation and other approved purposes.  IEUA also participates in local, regional and statewide programs to conserve water and to reduce the use of potable water for non-potable uses.


IEUA continually seeks ways to reduce its energy consumption through efficient design and operations, and to increase production of renewable energy.  Sewage sludge from wastewater treatment operations is digested to produce methane.  Digester gas methane is used both to (1) heat the digesters, and (2) produce electricity.  In addition, IEUA is partnering with a provider of solar electricity to install 4 MW of solar photovoltaics on its properties.  IEUA is also investigating potential sites for in-conduit hydropower and wind.

organic biosolids diagram

Biosolids Management

IEUA reduces environmental impacts from the region’s dairy manure by digesting it to produce additional methane that is used to produce electricity for the Chino Basin Desalter, that creates potable water from brackish groundwater, and to produce additional electricity for IEUA’s wastewater treatment operations.


High quality compost is produced as a result of IEUA’s digestion of dairy manure.

'LEEDing' by Example

IEUA hqIEUA’s commitment to procure, design and build sustainably is exemplified in its LEED Platinum Headquarters, the first public building to receive this highest of U.S. Green Building Council ratings.  When completed, it was also the largest LEED Platinum certified facility in the nation.

The IEUA's Headquarters complex's 66,000 square feet of office space consumes half the energy of their previous 30,000 square feet of leased office space. The headquarters houses over 200 of the agency's 308 employees in administrative and engineering operations position.  IEUA saved considerable costs by locating the headquarters next door to their new water recycling plant and bringing staff from the treatment plant into the headquarters building.  This avoided the need for another office building as well as reduced gasoline consumption and air pollution.  IEUA also uses waste heat from the adjacent water recycling plant.

Designed with energy and environmental efficiency in mind, its solar roof panels (photovoltaics) produce 60,000 watts of energy, generating enough electrical power for 33,000 square feet of office space. However, not content to simply install solar photovoltaics, IEUA is conducting three solar demonstration projects with the currently installed solar panels to evaluate their performance before selecting the solar system that will be installed on its Headquarters to achieve net zero energy consumption.

native plants

The facility’s use of recycled water and installation of
high efficiency plumbing reduces water consumption by 73%
compared to traditional building structures.

Planting more than 10,000 native and drought tolerant trees,
shrubs and bushes throughout the site further reduces water consumption.

The extensive use of recycled materials is also seen throughout
the interior as well as exterior of the headquarters complex.



recycled materialsIEUA’s Headquarters demonstrates how using recycled building materials and state-of-the-art energy efficiency can create a better environment, save water, improve staff productivity and contribute to the restoration of native landscapes.

To reduce congestion on roads, air pollution and dependence on
gasoline, IEUA encourages staff to use alternate modes of transportation to commute to/from work by:

1) offering a 9/80 or 4/10 work schedule to staff;
2) providing bike racks and electric vehicle charging stations at IEUA facilities; and
3) encouraging participation in a rideshare program.

Consistent with IEUA's culture of promoting shared values, IEUA has provided all of the documentation about its LEED certification process, including costs and benefits, and lessons learned, on its website.  To learn more, click here.



Richard Atwater, CEO of Inland Empire Utilities Agency, describes how his organization became a leader in sustainability and honored by the California Sustainability Alliance through innovative programs to turn waste into useable products such as compost and recycled water.