WaterSense is a program that assists consumers with identifying high-performance, water-efficient fixtures that can reduce water and wastewater use, costs, and conserve the nation’s water resources for future generations.
The program is sponsored by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and includes a rigorous third-party certification process to earn the WaterSense label.
Reducing water use is a simple way to earn LEED green building credits and also reduce your operating budget. Reductions in water consumption and money spent can be achieved with little if any additional cost over standard plumbing fixtures.
As the graph demonstrates, water use varies dramatically by facility type. The restroom, however, consistently represents the biggest area of water savings potential, with restaurants predictably seeing the majority of their water consumption happen in the kitchen.
Why Save Water?
- Water is an extremely limited resource—sure, 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, but less than 1 percent is actually available for human use.
- A whopping 80% of state water managers expect water shortages in part, or all, of the states over the next ten years.
- Each American uses an average of 3000 gallons of water per month.
- We all have the capacity to use 30 percent less water simply by installing water-efficient fixtures and appliances.
- The national average of the price of water has risen 41% since 2010.
In many areas of the country concern about water availability has become so significant that discussions about water pricing have grown more frequent. Many contend that the government should stop subsidizing the price of water, (which would cause a dramatic price increase) and that only when Americans have to pay the “real” price of water will consumption patterns change.
Andrew Ward, Director of US Public Finance recently stated, “We expect water rates to continue to grow above inflation for some time. We don’t see an end in sight.”
The WaterSense Advantage
According to the EPA:
- WaterSense labeled products are 20 percent more water-efficient and perform as well as or better than standard models.
- WaterSense labeled faucets — or aerators installed on existing faucets — are about 30 percent more efficient than standard faucets while still providing sufficient flow.
- WaterSense labeled toilets use 20 percent less water per flush but perform as well as or better than today’s standard toilets and older toilets that use much more water.
- The WaterSense label is found on more than 1,600 models of showerheads, 1,900 models of tank-type toilets, 6,800 models of faucet or faucet accessories, and 150 models of weather–based irrigation controllers that are independently certified to meet EPA’s criteria for both water efficiency and performance.
There is a strong business case to be made for water efficiency, including the ability for companies to save on operating costs and reducing the risk of water shortages, and here are the products that can help commercial facilities and residential properties alike:
Toilets – Toilets account for 25% of the daily water use in the US, and over half of those toilets are older, less efficient models. Also, over 1.6 billion gallons of water are wasted yearly due to those inefficient toilets.
- Dual-Flush Toilets – a dual flusher typically has two buttons — one provides a half-flush, and the other provides a full flush, depending on the type of waste. These toilets can reduce water usage by up to 67%.
- High-Efficiency Toilets (HETs) – HETs do not use more than 1.28 gallons per flush (GPM). Without sacrificing performance, these toilets often replace older, inefficient models flushing 3-5 gallons after each use. HETs can save up to 17,000 gallons per year, per toilet.
To identify water-saving toilets, look for the WaterSense label.
Urinals – The waterless urinal can replace a standard urinal and save an average of 40,000 gallons per year. 40,000 gallons would fill:
- two swimming pools, or
- eight tanker trucks, or
- enough water to supply a typical household for over 500 days.
Check out our previous post for a complete analysis of the waterless urinal.
Low-Flow Showerheads – Changing out a 2.75 GPM showerhead with a WaterSense 1.75 GPM showerhead can save more than 7,000 gallons of water per year. And depending on the exact showerhead that you’re replacing, the savings can be even greater (based on four showers per day at 7 minutes):
|Gallons per minute (GPM)||Likely if your facility was built:||Savings in gallons per year (GPY)|
|2.75||1980 to 1993||17,400 GPY from 5.0 GPM|
|2.5||1994 to present||19,300 GPY from 5.0 GPM
1,900 GPY from 2.75 GPM
|1.75||Present||25,100 GPY from 5.0 GPM
7,700 GPY from 2.75 GPM
5,800 GPY from 2.5 GPM
Low-Flow Faucets – Faucets equipped with WaterSense aerators offer 1.5 GPM and have a 45% water savings over older, less efficient 2.75 GPM faucets. Similar to showerheads, it depends on the flow rate of the faucet you’re replacing, but the water savings could go as high as 25,000 gallons per year!
Pre-Rinse Spray Valves (PRSV) – Particularly in restaurants, the kitchen can be a major consumer of water, accounting for over 40% of the total building usage. Approximately 51 billion gallons of water per year flow through PRSVs across the nation, with the federal standard set at 1.6 GPM. WaterSense models use 20% less water (1.28 GPM) and include spray force criteria to ensure performance.
Replacing one PRSV with a WaterSense model can:
- Save 7,000 GPY, the equivalent of 5,000 racks of dishes.
- Reduce natural gas needed to heat the water by 6,400 cubic feet per year, or enough gas to run a convection oven for 12 hours per day for three weeks.
- Save approximately $250 per year.
- Produce a return on investment in as little as four months.
- Save $225 million annually if utilized by all restaurants in the US
Toilet and Urinal Flush Valves – Flush valve manufacturers provide the option to install high-efficiency flush valves or commercial dual flush valves, both of which produce water savings without first having to replace the entire toilet or urinal. And your new flush valve will install in minutes, giving you the instant savings that will improve your bottom line. These WaterSense flush valves are estimated to produce savings more than $1000 over the life of the product.
Start Saving Today
Additional water-saving measures are available and vary in practicality by facility type. Installing water meters (sub-metering), using rainwater and gray-water, and efficient monitoring of cooling towers can further reduce your building’s water usage.
Also, if your project is pursuing LEED certification, simply using WaterSense fixtures releases your team from having to perform the calculations necessary to demonstrate 20% savings required to receive the corresponding credits.
WaterSense has become a trusted label offering consumers immediate assurance that a product will align with the company’s sustainability goals.