Pre-rinse spray valves — which remove excess food waste from dishes prior to dishwashing and account for about one-third of the water used in a typical commercial kitchen — are now eligible to earn the EPA’s WaterSense label and help food service establishments save water, energy and money.
This is the first WaterSense specification for a commercial kitchen product. EPA acting administrator for water Nancy Stoner says replacing just one pre-rinse spray valve with a WaterSense-labeled model can save a typical restaurant more than 7,000 gallons of water per year.
The EPA estimates that about 51 billion gallons of water is used every year to rinse dishes by close to 1 million food service establishments in the country. If every US commercial food service establishment installed and used a WaterSense labeled pre-rinse spray valve, they could collectively save more than 10 billion gallons of water, more than $225 million in water and energy costs and prevent the equivalent of 900,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, according to the agency.
Like all WaterSense labeled products, pre-rinse spray valves that earn the label must be independently certified for efficiency and performance. Working in conjunction with industry stakeholders, EPA specifies a maximum flow rate for WaterSense labeled pre-rinse spray valves of 1.28 gallons per minute, 20 percent less water than the federal standard. To ensure that these fixtures will work well and meet the demands of high-volume kitchens while using less water, EPA also includes spray force performance criteria and a requirement for life cycle testing for the products to earn the WaterSense label.
Restaurants and commercial kitchens are one of the highest energy consumers in commercial buildings, using approximately five to eight times more energy per square foot than other commercial spaces, the EPA says. Outfitting a kitchen with WaterSense labeled pre-rinse spray valves, along with Energy Star-certified food service products, will save energy and water.
A restaurant that replaces just one pre-rinse spray valve with a WaterSense labeled model could recoup its investment in four to eight months and save more than $115 per year on water and energy costs, depending on how its water is heated, according to the agency.
The EPA says, since the program’s inception in 2006, WaterSense has helped consumers save 487 billion gallons of water and $8.9 billion in water and energy bills.