Saving Water in Domestic Services and Restrooms in Grocery Stores

One of the easiest ways to make a dent in your water consumption, and undoubtedly the most visible to consumers, is to revamp your bathroom and domestic services. It is also one of the easiest to perform, as the store can keep running uninterrupted throughout an intervention.  Despite being a relatively small part of the store, the restrooms take up 17% of the water of a store! Here, you’ll find solutions, from easy fixes to complete revamps, that can help you save water, position your brand as green and save money.

You can see how water is used in a grocery store.

You can see how water is used in a grocery store(1).

Toilets and urinals An obvious place to start are the toilets. If the remodel is complete, the decision is simple: go with whatever uses the least water. The water consumption is usually defined in terms of gallons per flush (gpg). Newer toilets cut by up to a third the water used in a single flush. Old models use up to 3.5 gpf  and can be replaced with ULFTs, which use 1.6 gpf, and HETs, which use 1.28 gpf. (2). Urinals can be changed to waterless urinals which eliminate the use of water. If the budget available to a bathroom remodel is limited you must estimate the amount of water used and saved. To do this accurately, separate women’s toilets, men’s toilets, and men’s urinals.  A sample calculation can be found here. Once you do this, you can calculate the water saved per year and, multiply by the rate, the money saved (check to see if you qualify for a lower rate). If you’r looking for simpler interventions that can have an impact on your water consumption, consider the following:

  • Have your building maintenance team test the bathrooms for efficiency and check for leaks (tiny leaks add-up quickly).
  • If you’re using automatic flush systems and sensors, make sure they are not being randomly triggered; ‘phantom flushes’ can negate the benefit of a more efficient system.
  • Make sure the right parts are being used when giving maintenance: a 3.5gpf valve can fit a 1.6gpf toilet, yet the functioning is radically different.
  • Don’t tweak the toilets to use too little water: having to flush twice because of poor functioning will consume water.
  • Paper towels and disposable seat covers are the most common cause of clogged commercial toilets; consider alternatives (sanitizers, air-dryers and continuous seat cover dispensers) (3)

Faucets Faucets are much simpler to tackle, at least in terms of equipment and material. Keep in mind the two main principles: reduce water flow AND duration of use. Unlike toilets, which are measured in terms of gallons per flush, faucets and showers are rated by gallons per minute (gpm).

  • Install faucet aerators: easy to install and cheap (usually under $5 per faucet)
  • Adjust flow to national standards: .5 gpm should be confortable.
  • Install metering faucets (which shut-off after a given time-spam) or negative shut-off valves (where the user must maintain pressure to keep the water flowing)
  • Consider getting rid of sensor-activated faucets, as studies suggest they increase water consumption.(2)
  • Beware reducing the volume of the flow below standards: water may not mix correctly, increasing risk of scalding.


Check out our RESOURCES PAGE where you can find more information about saving water, including ratings on equipment and rebates!


SOURCES: 1. 2. 3.

Resources for Saving Water in Grocery Stores.

California faces an unprecedented drought; saving water is a top concern for costumers, regulators, and businesses. In the following weeks we will blog about the opportunities for grocers across the US to save water, money, and become community leaders in environmental conservation. We begin with a collection of resources for you, which we will reference in the upcoming series.

Rebates and incentives finder:

Information and Research:

Best Practices:


Big Data for Grocers: what is the buzz or benchmark?

What do grocers have to learn from web giants? Before embarking upon mindless imitation and buying into snake-oil pitches, grocers must have a clear understanding of what Big Data is  and, more importantly, how it fits within the company.

What is Big Data, then? Data scientists in IBM have identified the four dimensions that make Big Data: Volume, Velocity, Variety, Veracity(1). To put it more succinctly, if it doesn’t fit in an Excel spreadsheet, it’s Big Data(2). It combines large volumes of data from inside the company (e.g. transaction information, inventory data, costumer feedback, in store sensors) and data from outside the company (e.g. macroeconomic data, social media content and mobile devices). By using this kind of data, grocers around the world have achieved amazing results: Safeway uses personalised ads to reach 45% of its sales base(3), Kroger has improved its coupon redemption rate to 60% (4), TESCO’s redemption rate shot up from 3% to 70% (5)!

Big Data Analytics, though, are no longer reserved to industry giants.  Cloud computing has enabled companies to offer services like these to small and medium businesses. Established behemoths, like IBM, Google and SAS, offer integrated and personalised services; there are also grocer-specific platforms, like mywebgrocer(6).

To formulate a Big Data strategy, and not get swept away in the sea of options, grocers must have a clear understanding of their needs and questions. Big Data is not a magical beast that feeds on data, obscurely tamed by obscure data-oracles; Big Data’s answers will be as good as the questions you ask(7). Only then can one know what is worth measuring, collecting and analysing. Some of the problems most frequently approached through Big Data are:

  • Recommendation engines and affinity analysis,
  • Digital coupon targeting,
  • Adjusting inventory to changing environment conditions (weather, competitors, events),
  • Tracking word-of-mouth buzz to understand paths of influence and sentiment analysis(8).

The implementation of an analytics program must go beyond mere projects. As Marcus Shingles, analyst for Deloitte, puts it “The emphasis is on the need to think beyond data tools and techniques, and focus on analytical talent models, decision processes and cultural shifts”(9). The analytical insights of Big Data will only come to those who wield it mindfully.

-The Sutti Team







(6) Here is a list that may help you get started: