Feature Article - September 2018
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A Necessary Service

Restroom Structures Take On Different Situations

By Deborah L. Vence

Trends in Restrooms

Looking at trends, overall, "Construction costs have been going up faster than inflation for many years now," Earlywine said.

"While modular construction costs have increased steadily, on-site construction costs have seen a wide range of increases from region to region or even city to city in the same state," he said. "Shopping around for a restroom provider is more necessary than ever to keep the project within a reasonable budget."

In addition, "The market has been behaving different in a sense that municipalities have more money than they used to. We've always had the mindset that we can provide value … through … low-cost restrooms," he added.

Kaufman said current trends include all-gender restrooms.

"California began the legal change requiring 'all gender restrooms' to replace separate sexed (male/female restrooms). Other states are following, but cautiously," he said. "In California at least 50 percent of single-user restrooms (with single patron user lockable rooms) must be 'all gender and accessible.'"

Another trend is associted with sourcing. "Communities are moving more and more to brand-specific sole-source acquisition for their park restrooms to reduce maintenance and standardize on maintenance parts needed to maintain operations with their maintenance staffs," Kaufman said. "Once a community has a good experience with a brand, they make that brand their standard to the exclusion of all others."

He also noted architectural theme standardization for community park buildings: "Nationwide, communities are searching for park thematic buildings that blend with the existing architecture in their communities to make the structures look like they belong," he said. "If the building now is in New England, it will have an old New England architectural theme," he said.

Also trending are budget increases to make it possible to purchase restroom buildings that last without high maintenance costs. "Public agencies are tending to increase capital budgets to buy into stronger life-cycle construction instead of seeing high maintenance costs eat up lower first cost design standards that have proven ineffective," Kaufman said.

Meanwhile, Worthington noted that incorporating a concession stand is another trend he sees. "Either a concession room where youth sports organizations sells pre-packaged goods and drinks that are brought daily to the complex, or concession operations where food is prepared requiring exhaust hoods and triple bowl wash sinks, along with refrigeration equipment," he said.

Other trends, he said, include:

  • Restroom buildings that have "family" rooms. (A restroom in which a parent can bring toddlers and infants together in the same space in private. The rooms also are ADA compliant for handicap and elderly use.)
  • Restrooms that are insulated for year-round use.

Zentarsky said non-gender-specific rooms are a trend, as well as:

  • Family assist rooms that fit multiple people at once.
  • Buildings that are made from recycled products.
  • Smart buildings that can be controlled from remote locations.
  • Vandal-resistant features (building construction/fixtures).
  • Self-cleaning buildings.