Feature Article - May 2010
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Behind the Scenes

Recreational Locker Rooms, Restrooms More Refined

By Kellye Whitney

Sustainability and Expanded Facility Use

Eco-savvy automatic censors on flush valves, faucets, soap dispensers and even low-flow shower heads are practically standard these days, but other areas of sustainability, beyond saving on water usage, are becoming more popular.

"The sustainable concept has to do with all sorts of things like commitment to operation expenses, overall customer satisfaction, keeping businesses in the community for a long period of time, in addition to saving energy," said Craig Bouck, president and CEO of Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture, a Denver-based firm that specializes in green architecture and design for recreation centers and schools. "People are still really committed, at least on the public level, to making sure the cores of their building are solid. They know there are additions and alternations they're going to need to make as their demographics change, but the core, the locker rooms and the bathrooms, become a part of that."

The cabanas or family-style changing rooms are a critical facet of the locker room. Bouck said this area, along with restrooms, is one of the most time- and resource-intensive in any discussion of renovations. Facilities may end up with 15 to 20 rooms as opposed to four to six, which, he said, would be a typical standard, and that transition can be a tough one for some community members. Luckily, he said it usually doesn't take long for patrons to adapt once they get past that initial and perfectly natural opposition to change.

Furthermore, the cabana style changing rooms provide recreation facilities with new opportunities to attract clients to centers who might have felt uncomfortable attending and using locker rooms before. These patrons might include the elderly, people who need special assistance, those who are overweight and transgender individuals.

"We've found the cabanas aid in marketing these facilities in a really significant way," Bouck said. "Before, they were just for the family; typical use would be when parents have children who are in between ages of being able to use the locker room facility by themselves or needing supervision. It allowed them to go in whether they were boys or girls, or men and women, but we found that turned out to be only a minor user."