Reduce Park Restroom Maintenance Costs & Improve Life Cycle
When park restroom designers or planners select components for their project, they often fall back on past practice and vendors. The same fallback practice for park restroom replacement parts continues the experience of the original component selection. In the past 10 years, innovative new components and system improvements have become available to increase life cycle and reduce maintenance costs. Some of those improvements are code-driven, and others come from vendors building park restrooms who provide extended warranties that drive the need for improved, longer-lived parts. Examples are everywhere, from toilet stall door latches that no longer latch to doors and jambs that rust from the hose-down maintenance. Light fixtures now have to meet new energy codes and vandalism is ever-present. The road to better answers is now here and growing with a plethora of new products that should be considered to close the chapter of light-duty design against life-cycle cost advantages.
Q: What examples of park maintenance reduction are now available?
A: In the past all park doors and jambs were hollow metal steel. In a short time, the jambs began to rust and the doors dented, causing a cycle of planned replacement as the rust and damage are an attractive nuisance for vandals. Now a completely new technology creates pultruded fiberglass doors that fit universal existing door jambs or, when applicable, an entire replacement of doors and jambs that stop the rust, denting, thermal bow and replacement cycle for good. These new rugged doors are the strongest doors in America, and although they cost slightly more than steel doors, they are a permanent solution for this problem.
Q: What is the cost comparison of replacement vs. the cost of better components to start?
A: A federal study has shown that a purchase of a traditional restroom at a 30 percent lower original cost can be eaten up in maintenance costs in just 6.5 years, suggesting that building with longer-lasting, stronger components on initial construction bids is a sound strategy for long-term maintenance cost reduction. This means that selecting stronger lifetime toilet seats with stainless steel hinges, heavier gauge stainless steel toilet partition door latches, thick heavy duty stainless steel door handles and latch guards, and powder coated exterior sight screens contributes to lower downstream costs.
Q: What does the new energy code say about lighting fixtures?
A: The new energy codes dramatically reduce the amount of watts each light fixture can provide to public restrooms. The lighting industry came up with LED lighting that is now installed in vandal-resistant housings to bring low energy use to higher lighting emission in a rugged fixture. The bulb life is much longer than any other technology available now so another gain for innovation is now available.
Q: What is the new direction for park planners, designers, architects and landscape architects?
A: Design has latched on to the new longer-lived components and systems. Examples of other components that bring other benefits like safety are: antimicrobial toilet seats, door handles, flush handles, grab bars, toilet stall door latches and door push handles; door closers that stop before the jamb to prevent finger injuries; over ventilated gable screens to increase fresh air without mechanical fans; and timed magnetic door locks to delete the need for staff to open and lock restrooms.
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