Guest Column - February 2013
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Locker Rooms & Restrooms

Greening Locker Rooms & Restrooms
Sustainable Design Evolves, Locking in Style & Savings

By Kris Alderson


Touch-Free Fixtures Advance Efficiency & Cleanliness

There is a continued preference among consumers and building owners for touchless fixtures in restrooms. They are extremely convenient and easy for users to activate and for facility owners to clean and maintain. Their "hands-free" design also reduces wear and tear from usage and opportunities for vandalism.

From an efficiency standpoint, research has shown that electronic faucets can help reduce water usage because they turn off automatically when a user leaves the sink so water is not left running. Some newer hands-free fixtures use 0.38 GPM faucets vs. 0.5 GPM, which achieves a 24 percent water savings.

And, since touchless fixtures create fewer touchpoints in the restroom, they cut down on transmission of germs and bacteria from user's hands, which they are trying to wash away in the first place.

As for drying hands, freestanding high-speed touchless hand dryers help promote hand-drying without excess paper waste and expense. Newer models are also highly energy-efficient, as they use 80 percent less electricity than other hand dryers, while drying hands in as little as 10 to 12 seconds.

Restroom Condition Affects Customer Satisfaction

On the topic of washing up, an annual survey of Americans' hand-washing preferences in public places by Bradley Corp., manufacturer of commercial restroom fixtures, found that 51 percent of Americans say they've had a particularly unpleasant experience in a public restroom due to the condition of the facilities. The three most common complaints about public restrooms were a bad smell, restrooms that looked old, dirty or unkempt, and toilets that were clogged or not flushed.

These issues are a direct reflection on business establishments: When asked about their perceptions of businesses with poorly maintained restrooms, survey respondents cited poor management (62 percent); lack of care about customers (59 percent); and a lowered opinion of the business (54 percent).

Wet and slippery floors—an issue even more common in recreational facilities with pools and aquatic centers—were also high on many respondents' lists of restroom issues. While nearly 70 percent of respondents think that water collecting on the floor is extremely/very aggravating, almost half say they are extremely/very uneasy about walking across a wet restroom floor.

In addition to making sure towels are readily available and scheduling frequent moppings, facility managers may consider using new hands-free technology for restroom fixtures that addresses wet floors. A new "all-in-one" hand-washing fixture—with touchless soap, water-conserving faucet and high-efficiency hand dryer in the same unit—eliminates dripping water on the floor, improving safety in commercial restrooms since the user's hands stay within the sink area until they are dried.

We have only touched on some of the major strategies for greening locker rooms and restrooms. Economic and environmental concerns will continue to drive sustainable building design and technology is sure to advance. As a result, recreational facilities have an increasing opportunity to improve operating and maintenance costs, while building a more comfortable and pleasing environment for their patrons.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kris Alderson is a senior marketing manager at Bradley Corporation, a leading manufacturer of plumbing fixtures, washroom accessories, partitions, emergency fixtures and solid plastic lockers. For more information, visit www.bradleycorp.com.