Locker Rooms & Restrooms

Being Green, Seeing Green

By Alan Gettleman and David Leigh

Mythology: It costs more to be a responsible corporate "citizen" by purchasing products crafted from sustainable and recycled materials.

Truth: When you're friendly to the environment, you're also friendly to your bottom line. You gain the public relations value, especially important in the "family-friendly" recreation industry, while at the same time reducing your operating costs.


o prove the point, we'll provide some discussion about restroom accessories, toilet partitions and urinal screens, and dressing compartments. You'll see the savings from several perspectives (including lifecycle durability) that reduce repair and replacement, maintenance cost containment, and the use of universal consumables such as soap. And, in some cases, these contribute to LEED certification.

Recycled Stainless Steel

Restroom accessories, such as towel dispensers, waste receptacles, soap dispensers, sanitary vendors and receptacles, mirror frames, toilet tissue and seat cover dispensers, are primarily crafted of stainless steel.

Recycled stainless steel is procured from around the world, and it is not uncommon for these restroom accessories to be 50 percent to 70 percent post-industrial recycled stainless steel.

Universal vs. Proprietary Consumables (e.g., Soap)

Basically, there are two choices in this category:

  • Universal, bulk-packaged, non-proprietary liquid and lotion soaps are available at a variety of price points shipped in 1-gallon jugs and dispensed from bulk soap dispensers. Dispenser models include lavatory-mounted and wall or mirror mounted, available in durable, recycled stainless steel and high-impact polyethylene.
  • Alternatively, proprietary soap dispensers are available in plastic cartridges that can only be used in the soap company's dispensers. These cartridges are non-biodegradable, require landfill disposal, and lock the operator into long-term purchasing agreements. Another waste factor is the amount of residual soap remaining in the cartridges during change-out replacement cycles.

And, yes, bulk soap costs less than proprietary products.

Warm-Air Hand Dryers

When you install a warm-air hand dryer, the bottom-line savings are 95 percent compared to the cost of drying hands with paper towels, which are all but eliminated. And this doesn't take into consideration the maintenance costs of servicing paper towel dispensers, plus storing inventory, cleaning up towels on the floor and disposing used towels.

A variety of materials and price points are available based on durability needs in terms of heavy use and even abuse. Cast-iron with vitreous enamel finish stands up to wear and tear most effectively, with a variety of steel and plastic models also available.

Family-Friendly Fosters Loyalty

Some baby-changing stations and child-protection seats are manufactured of 50 percent recycled polyethylene and stainless steel. Plus, anti-microbial product protection also may be included. Sanitary bed liners are biodegradable, and stainless-steel dispensers are also crafted of post-industrial recycled stainless steel.

Both polyethylene and stainless-steel products can qualify for LEED MR Materials and Resources Credits 4.1/4.2 and 5.1/5.2.

A recent independent national study of parents with children under 6 confirmed the value of family-friendly accommodation. Parents indicated that they are more loyal, visit more often, and spend more time and money at establishments with child accommodation amenities.

Partitions, Dividers, Compartments & Screens

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. Materials for toilet partitions, shower dividers, dressing compartments and urinal screens are available that significantly reduce maintenance and replacement costs, while at the same time assist operators in earning LEED points.

These materials are:

  • Plastic laminate
  • Solid phenolic
  • Solid color reinforced composite (SCRC)

Maintenance cost-containment examples include:

  • Impact resistance reduces repair and replacement costs.
  • Non-ghosting graffiti removal saves maintenance time.
  • Scratch-resistance contains maintenance costs.

And, not incidentally, these materials qualify for Class B ASTM E84 Interior Wall and Ceiling Finish Classification with Solid Phenolic also available with a Class A Classification.

With respect to LEED Certification, the following contributions are available:

  • Recycled Content MR 4.1/4.2 - Salvaged, reused or refurbished content.
  • Regional Materials MR 5.1/5.2 - Extracted, harvested or recovered or manufactured within 500 miles of the project site.
  • Low-Emitting Materials EQ 4.4 - When composite wood and agrifiber products contain no added urea-formaldehyde resins.

Toilet partitions, shower dividers, dressing compartments and urinal screens crafted of plastic laminate, solid phenolic and SCRC have also been Greenguard Indoor Air Quality Certified by Greenguard Environmental Institute under the standard for low-emitting products.

Lastly, stainless-steel toilet partition door hardware and mounting brackets are available in stainless steel containing 50 percent to 70 percent post-industrial recycled stainless steel balanced with virgin iron and ferrous alloys.

Prudence pays dividends.

To summarize, when choosing restroom equipment and consumables for recreation property replacement, renovation or new construction, you will be rewarded in more ways than one if you evaluate and select green options.


Alan Gettelman is director of marketing for Bobrick Washroom Equipment. David Leigh is director of marketing for Koala Kare Products. For copies of either company's technical bulletins covering LEED certification and more, visit or

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