Leslie McGowan is marketing communication analyst for Zurn Ind. LLC. McGowan can be reached at [email protected].
For facilities, maintenance teams and building owners, doing more with less is the rule and no longer the exception. With shrinking budgets, cost savings are a priority, and smaller budgets are raising the bar on product selection. Consumers want more from their products. It is not enough for products to perform well; they need to include more, such as time savings, longevity, high-performance and help, to ease the burden of smaller budgets. Recognizing that consumers want more from their products, manufacturers are stepping up to the challenge. They are using technology and smart design to get there.
To meet rising expectations, commercial restroom faucet manufacturers are exploring new designs while focusing on durability. Faucet designs that combine ceramic disc cartridges with gear-driven operation outperform and outlast other faucets. By eliminating old compression sealing and with less moving parts to disrupt the water pathway and less wear on the system, the gear-driven faucet has a longer lifespan and withstands longer life cycles. Longer-lasting faucets can mean fewer replacement costs and less strain on budgets while providing high performance. Today, new faucet designs not only perform well, but also provide the aesthetics designers are looking for and the longevity that building owners are looking for. Choosing faucets with various flow control options that conserve water while avoiding replacement costs provide budget savings.
Working With WaterSense
Searching for water-efficient faucets and fixtures is easy on the U.S. EPA’s WaterSense website. WaterSense is a voluntary partnership program sponsored by EPA to reduce the amount of water usage in the U.S. All products labeled with the WaterSense logo have been third-party certified to use at least 20% less water. Manufacturing partners contribute to the program’s success by improving product performance and by enhancing the market for water-efficient products, practices and services.
Through the WaterSense website, consumers can search and select product categories, brands and models for use in residential and commercial restrooms. WaterSense labeled faucets use a maximum of 1.5 gpm, reducing the amount of water used and reducing water bills. Commercial, healthcare and institutional buildings can take the additional steps of reviewing best practices, recommendations and free tools offered on the WaterSense website.
Water-efficient products also can help building owners achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. LEED certification is a green building rating system that was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). LEED certifications offer “independent verification of a building or neighborhood’s green features, allowing for the design, constructions, operations, and maintenance of resource-efficient, high-performing, healthy, cost-effective buildings.”
Retrofitting old faucets and fixtures to their water conserving counterparts can help building owners obtain LEED certification and ease water consumption. USGBC claims LEED certified buildings “make for happier employees and occupants” by experiencing better indoor environmental quality. Studies have shown that improved air quality at work improves productivity.
Research Enhanced Systems
High-efficiency toilets are becoming more popular, and with stricter regulations emerging, less water is used to push waste down the waste line, leading to an increase in clogs or backups. Choosing water closets, urinals, flush valves and carrier systems specifically designed for low flow can shrink water usage, while working together to avoid backups and closed restrooms. New toilets with siphon jet flush action and glazed trap ways are designed to conserve water and propel waste farther than traditional systems when paired with the optimal flush valve. Enhanced carrier systems—used to carry waste from the water closet to the waste pipe—with evolved sweeps can extend the line carry and negate backups, keeping the restroom operating and avoiding maintenance costs and downtime.
Connected products are not new. Smart buildings have been using technology in HVAC systems and elevator banks for years, and homebuilders have been using technology for energy-efficiency, but technology has not reached commercial building restrooms until now. Manufacturers are using sensors to bring wireless, connected, cloud-based technology to faucets, flush valves and even backflow preventers. These products install like their non-connected counterparts, but provide performance and maintenance data with real-time analytics.
This smart technology allows facilities maintenance personnel to remotely access the performance of their products and set up dashboard style alerts for 24/7 monitoring. Being able to view and monitor water consumption and product usage allows facilities to make decisions that can save costs and budget for preventative maintenance. Overall, connected products give facilities maintenance personnel the data to control their products and the oversight to avoid potential problems.
Manufactures and programs like WaterSense are providing customers with access to detailed product information to make budget-conscious and informed product decisions. With a little time and research, designing smart restrooms can pay off in water efficiency, less maintenance and less downtime.