Guest bathrooms go high-tech to go green

Speakman

Hotels have been instituting eco-friendly measures for decades, and designers and suppliers alike are developing ways to keep bathrooms green while maintaining a sense of style. Low-flow showerheads are a fairly common way to cut down on water usage, for example, and can come in a wide range of styles. Thermostatic valves let guests control the water temperature (eliminating the need to add cold water to hot). Thermostatic valves also help reduce the risk of scalding or widely varying water temperatures. 

Consumer control over the experience in the shower is becoming very important, said Madeline Barker, product manager at Speakman. “Exact flow, exact temperature—exact experience is something that we anticipate will be very important in the future.” She noted recent California legislation, passed in the midst of a historic (and devastating) drought, that changed the amount of gallons of water allowed to come from faucets per minute from 1.5 to 1.2. “We see the reflection that this is having on the production of faucets,” she said. With these new laws in mind, she expects hoteliers will seek even more ways to cut down on water use in hotel bathrooms. 

“It’s hugely important for the entire industry to adjust to all changing legislation around the country that mandates hotels and residences lowering water usage,” Barker said. The problem, she said, is that hoteliers want to cut costs, reduce water usage and improve the guest experience all at the same time. In many cases, hotels will “infuse” the water stream with air and givethe illusion that more water is coming out of the stream than is actually present. “When you add air, it decreases the thermal retention of water,” Barker said. “You have hotels adding low-flow products to reduce water usage, but then customers crank up the heat on their valves. That increases energy usage.” To that end, she said, Speakman has re-engineered its showerheads to take advantage of water velocity without affecting the energy output. 

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“There are so many water-sensible products available now—from faucets to shower heads to toilets,” said Lynn Hardy, operations manager at Americh. “It is much easier now for designers to include an eco-friendly practice in their design. Another obvious way is to choose foundation pieces that are timeless and will never need to be replaced due to style.” Less-obvious ways, she continued, are to choose materials that will not require harsh chemicals to clean and maintain. “Sustainability should never be a choice, but a requirement.”

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