Make WaterSense: Save Water, Money & the Planet

June 3, 2022

Diving into the importance of water efficiency

About the author:

Peter Nicholas is engineering leader for UL Water Systems. Nicholas can be reached at [email protected]

Water is an essential natural resource that we cannot take for granted. Growing demand for water, increasing water scarcity and the degradation of water quality have forced water to the forefront of agricultural, commercial and ecological discussion. Water use and consumption represent a global concern, and practices and technologies have emerged to help improve water efficiency and sustainability. For water fixture manufacturers, making products water-efficient can help preserve that precious natural resource and improve your product’s place in the market.

Water efficiency benefits Earth by using less, improving quality, helping maintain aquatic ecosystems, mitigating the effects of drought and protecting drinking water sources. Smart water use creates sustainability, allowing you to meet your current water needs without compromising your future needs. Achieving water sustainability requires discipline and the creation of water use goals and limits across your aesthetic, economic, environmental, technical and transportation considerations.

UL works across the spectrum — with architects and designers, farmers, manufacturers, producers and retailers — to demonstrate products’ water efficiency. Saving water lowers costs. You pay less for water, naturally, but it can also reduce spending on chemicals, electric power, gasoline and wastewater disposal.

How Can I Achieve Water Efficiency & Sustainability?

The idea is a good one: Save water, save money and save the planet. But how do you do it? Sustainability results more from water efficiency in plan and practice, so we’ll concentrate on conserving water. As a manufacturer, you constantly adjust to new technology, and new technology — e.g., water-efficient production lines, high-efficiency plumbing, improved wastewater systems — often comes at a price. But if the new technology helps lower operations and infrastructure costs while also easing your ecological conscience, it is well worth the investment. Reducing water use may also be mandatory as government guidelines regarding the availability and effectiveness of water-efficiency technology tighten.

When it comes to products — the water fixtures you manufacture, distribute and sell — you must consider key elements like water efficiency and sustainability. Consumers demand water-efficient products. Many will pay an upfront premium to lower their water usage and bills; other consumers will buy your water-efficient products because they care about the planet.

Today, low-flow and high-efficiency technologies have resulted in fixtures that use less water while still delivering adequate pressure and performance. UL helps ensure products meet the standards the U.S. EPA has set under its WaterSense program.

What is WaterSense?

The WaterSense program seeks to protect future water supplies (sustainability) by promoting water efficiency and enhancing the market for water-efficient products, programs and practices. As far as products go, the WaterSense label helps consumers identify those that meet water efficiency and performance criteria. WaterSense works with distributors, homebuilders, irrigation professionals, manufacturers, retailers and utilities. It also works with UL and other accredited certifiers, tasking them with the testing, inspection and certification that proves that your products use less water without compromising performance.

Green building codes, the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program and, in many areas, plumbing codes themselves require WaterSense certification. The WaterSense label represents more than just a logo; it demonstrates a commitment to sustainable water use.

To Which Products does WaterSense Apply? What are the Parameters?

The WaterSense label applies to such heavy-use fixtures as bathroom sink faucets, irrigation services, showerheads, spray valves, toilets and urinals. It can also apply to entire homes stocked with WaterSense fixtures. Some of the parameters include:

  • Showerheads cannot exceed a water flow of 2 gallons per minute (gpm).
  • Low-flow sink faucets cannot exceed a water flow of 1.5 gpm.
  • Low-flow toilets cannot exceed 1.28 gallons per flush (gpf).

The standard flow for showerheads is 2.5 gpm, and 2.2 gpm for bathroom sink faucets. Until recently, toilets commonly used as much as 3.5 gpf, and older models lost an astonishing 6 or 7 gpf. Modern toilets must meet the federal standard of 1.6 gpf, but it is necessary to do better than that to earn a WaterSense label. (An interesting note: The EPA also states a minimum flush volume of 1 gpf to ensure that plumbing systems function effectively.)

WaterSense enhances the market for water-efficient products, programs and practices as it raises consumer awareness of such products. Also, federal rules require the purchase and use of supplies and services that promote water efficiency for government buildings, offices and departments, and many state and local rules do as well.

How do I get WaterSense Certified?

To certify water fixtures for compliance with WaterSense and other standards, those interested have to go through a licensed certification company.

About the Author

Peter Nicholas

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