Shari's Cafe & Pies: Upgrading Dipperwells to Save Water and Energy


During an equipment audit in 2010, Shari’s Café & Pies identified the potential for substantial water and energy savings through upgrades to the dipperwells at their 24-hour restaurants. At the time, each restaurant had five dipperwells—which are used to sanitize utensils between uses via a constant flow of water—and collectively they produced millions of gallons of water waste per year. With the installation of new dipperwells across 93 restaurant locations throughout the Pacific Northwest, Shari’s will save 20-25 million gallons of water each year.

In order to reduce water and energy waste from dipperwell use, Shari’s installed heated dipperwells that did not require continuously flowing water in order to properly sanitize utensils. To ensure staff were using them effectively, Shari’s also installed push-button metering faucets on the new wells that required staff to refill them manually only when needed. Shari’s was also able to reduce the number of wells at each location from five to four since the new dipperwells were more efficient and easier to use, further amplifying the water and energy savings across their portfolio.

The heated dipperwell installed at Shari's.

Shari’s applied for custom utility rebates from their local utilities, and after completing equipment testing were granted a rebate from Avista and PSE Utilities for the dipperwell installation at the majority of their Washington restaurants. Shari’s chose locations to pilot the new equipment based on costs, rebate availability, and best rate of return. After three years Shari’s rolled out the new heated wells at all locations. Shari’s also took special care to train staff to turn off the dipperwells or run them at their lowest flow rate during non-busy hours.

The new dipperwells resulted in an average of 35 percent reduction in total water use. Some restaurants even realized reductions as high as 50 percent! At the Shari's of Lynnwood location, for example, the equipment is expected to result in over 290,000 gallons of water savings, and will pay for itself in 0.2 years when factoring in applicable utility rebates. This new equipment is also adding convenience for store employees.

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Identifying or evaluating energy-saving technologies

Tool type:

Case Study

Building Type:

Food sales & service, Restaurant


Water Heating and Water Efficiency