More and more building owners and managers in the U.S. are building and operating facilities that are greener and more sustainable. A key reason for this is they are finding that being more environmentally responsible often results in real cost savings, especially when it comes to reducing water consumption.
One way to ensure responsible water use is by determining where to install faucets based on the flow rate needed. The flow rate of faucets, measured in gallons per minute (gpm), should be higher in some areas of a facility and lower in other areas. For instance, in foodservice and kitchen areas gpm should be high – about 2 gallons of water per minute is standard.
However, this flow rate is not necessary in restrooms. For faucets in these areas, aerators can be installed that reduce the flow rate to as little as 0.5 gpm. In fact, the U.S. Green Building Council specifically recommends that faucets in public restrooms and other general hand washing areas use no more than 0.5 gpm. This reduces water use considerably and still allows for effective hand washing. It can also lower utility costs associated with providing water to a facility.
Toilets and Urinals
Toilet technologies have advanced considerably in just the past few years, further helping reduce water consumption and costs. For instance, pressure-assist toilets are becoming more popular. They rely on compressed air to remove waste and, in so doing, use little water – about 1.1 gpf (gallons per flush). These toilets tend to be more costly than traditional toilets, and the original systems were noisy. That said, costs are coming down, and they are also far quieter today.
However, their added costs should be balanced with the reduction in water consumption. Water rates throughout the U.S. are escalating, in some cases quite alarmingly. These toilets can help minimize the impact of those rate increases.
Another option is a dual-flush toilet. Dual-flush systems typically reduce water consumption to about 1.25 gpf. While that flow rate is not as low as a pressure-assist system, it still is lower than the federally regulated 1.6 gpf.
As to urinals, big changes are in store due in part to the California drought. Starting this year, new urinals installed in California facilities can release only 0.5 gpf. This is down from 1 gpf for new urinals and as much as 3 gpf for older urinal systems. We expect to see that most manufacturers, due to the size of the California market, will develop more urinals that use only 0.5 gpf.
But that’s not all. An issue with the 0.5 gpf urinals is that while they use far less water, they still cost about the same as traditional urinals; this is mainly due to the fact that they require a flush valve. Because of this, there has been a significant uptick in the installation of no-water or waterless urinals in California. These systems, as the name implies, use no water at all and typically cost far less than traditional urinals.
For more information on how to reduce water consumption and use water more efficiently, please contact a Waterless Co. representative.