Saving Water in
Commercial and institutional buildings use a large portion of municipally supplied water in the
United States. With so many businesses making up the commercial and institutional sector, there
are great opportunities to conserve water. WaterSense at Work: Best Management Practices for
Commercial and Institutional Facilities promotes water-efficient techniques that can be applied
across a wide range of facilities with varying water needs.
Water used in hospitality and food service establishments
accounts for approximately 15 percent of the total water
use in commercial and institutional facilities in the United
States.1 The largest uses of water in restaurants are
associated with equipment and processes that take place
in the kitchen. Restrooms follow kitchens as the second
highest water use in restaurants.

        End Uses of Water in Restaurants


                               Cooling and Heating


Created by analyzing data from: New Mexico Office of the State
Engineer, American Water Works Association (AWWA), AWWA
Research Foundation, and East Bay Municipal Utility District.

Over the past 10 years, the costs of water and wastewater
services have risen at a rate well above the consumer
price index. Restaurant owners can expect these and
other utility costs to continue to increase in order to offset
the costs of replacing aging water supply systems.
Operating costs and environmental impacts are
influenced by water use. Industry estimates suggest that
implementing water-efficient practices in commercial
facilities can decrease operating costs by approximately
11 percent and energy and water use by 10 and 15
percent, respectively.2 Because food service facilities use
hot water for many tasks, reducing water use can provide
real benefits by decreasing energy bills.
To maximize savings on utility bills, restaurant owners can
benefit from assessing some of the most water-intensive
equipment used in kitchens. Equipment such as dipper
wells and wok stoves, for example, can use quite a bit of
water due to a continuous flow. If it is necessary to replace
existing food service equipment, upgrading this
equipment with water-efficient models can save money,
with a  relatively short payback period.
 Putting Water Efficiency to Work
 After upgrading its kitchen with high-efficiency pre-rinse spray valves, a Boston University cafeteria successfully reduced its water use by
 more than 48,000 gallons per year, a 63 percent decrease. With cost savings from water and sewer fees alone, a restaurant's simple
 payback period for replacing old, inefficient pre-rinse spray valves could be as short as one month.
                                     November 2012

                                                                                        Saving Water in Restaurants
Restaurant owners will also benefit from water-efficiency
measures through increased customer satisfaction. In
general, consumers have shown a preference for
businesses that have made a commitment to reducing
their environmental impact. With some customers seeking
green restaurants, demonstrating environmental
sustainability through water efficiency is a smart way to
gain a competitive edge. WaterSense at Work provides
guidance on water-efficient operation of restaurants and
institutional cafeterias, allowing for a more competitive
and environmentally sustainable business.

More information on operations,  maintenance, and user
education of equipment and processes within restaurants
and other food service facilities can be found in the
following sections of WaterSense at Work: Best
Management Practices for Commercial and Institutional
•   Section 1: Getting Started
•   Section 2: Water Use Monitoring and Education
•   Section 3: Sanitary Fixtures and Equipment
•   Section 4: Commercial Kitchen Equipment
•   Section 5: Outdoor Water Use
•   Section 6: Mechanical Systems
•   Section 7: Laboratory and Medical Equipment
•   Section 8: Onsite Alternative Water Sources
                                        Run an Efficient Kitchen
                          Upgrading dishwashers, ice machines, and steam cookers to ENERGY STAR* qualified
                          models will reduce water and energy use by at least 10 percent. These models typically use
                          less water by reusing water throughout cycles.
                          Maximize the efficiency of pre-rinse spray valves, food disposal systems, or equipment that
                          relies on a boiler—such as combination ovens, steam kettles, and steam cookers—to use
                          significantly less water.
                          Consider replacing equipment that discharges water continuously (e.g., dipper wells or
                          wok stoves) with efficient models or turn off when not in use.
                          Educate users on proper dishware prep and loading techniques to reduce the overall water

                            Look for the Label and Other Areas of Savings
                      •   Install WaterSense labeled toilets, bathroom faucets, and urinals where applicable. These
                          products have been independently certified to be at least 20 percent more water-efficient
                          and perform as well or better than standard models.

                      •   Check automatic sensors on faucets, toilets, and urinals to ensure they are operating
                          properly and avoid unnecessary water use.

                      •   Onsite alternative water sources from one source can be treated and reused in another
                          application (e.g., irrigation, toilet flushing, decorative water fixtures).
            For more information or to download a copy of WaterSense at Work, visit the WaterSense website at
 1 Dziegielewski, et al. 2000. Commercial and Institutional End Uses of Water. American Water Works Association Research Foundation.
 22009. Water Use in Buildings SmartMarket Report. McGraw-Hill Construction.