Feature Article - May 2009
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Down & Dirty

Dress Up Your Locker Rooms & Restrooms

By Richard Zowie

Green & Clean Restrooms

When it comes to modern restrooms in recreation, sports and fitness facilities, besides the continued emphasis on cleanliness, they also are gravitating toward environmentally friendly features where water is conserved.

"Green is a buzzword nowadays," Springs said. "Everybody's putting a green spin on their gadgets. When it comes to some of the combos of lavatory units, companies tout them as green if they use recycled material or solid surface material."

Dual-flush systems, which use different amounts of water depending on how the "facilities" have been used, are also growing in popularity, as are low-flow showerheads and faucets for sinks, in addition to urinals that use no water at all.

The soaps and cleaners used in restrooms and locker rooms—both for patrons washing their hands and by staff cleaning the facility—are also getting greener, with more options coming to the market all the time as companies jump on the trend.

The desire for cleanliness is also impacting the fixtures and other amenities found in locker rooms and restrooms, with anti-microbial finishes and touch-free devices becoming more and more popular.

It's not just the hot-air dryers that are becoming hands-free, but also faucets, soap dispensers and even towel dispensers. This is done through motion activation.

One area where trends are to be avoided is the use of color in restrooms. Springs said it's better to avoid what's trendy in the interest of long-term acceptability. Colors like avocado, brown and orange were popular in the '70s, while neons and pastels were the "new wave" colors of the '80s, and both styles now look dated.

"I try to be as timeless as I can rather than being trendy," Springs explained. "I avoid 'hot' colors. My fear is someone will walk in 10 years later and say, 'Oh wow, it was built in 2008.'"

When using natural materials and palettes, it's hard to go wrong, Springs said. Granite is becoming an extremely popular building material. "It's very durable and will last a long time," he said.

Besides color, today's restrooms include baby-changing stations in not only the women's restrooms but the men's as well, added the Pepsi Center's Tierney. They also have coat and bag hangers in toilet stalls (no doubt a handy implement in the northern states where heavy jackets are standard for the winter). Urinals and toilets also have motion sensing auto flushers, reducing the likelihood of getting germs by touching a lever that countless dirty hands have also touched.

"In our public restrooms, functionality is desirable to minimize the time spent in the restrooms," Tierney said. "In the locker rooms, aesthetics and functionality are equally important."

Tierney also sees a growing trend toward hands-free restrooms: motion-sensing auto-flushers, soap dispensers, water faucets, high-speed warm air hand dryers and no exterior doors.