Commercial Bathroom Energy Efficiency Checklist
Architects, builders, and specifiers can conserve energy at the many different levels of the project process. At at a high level, updating older buildings with new, more efficient technology can help reduce the amounts of electricity required to power a business. Something as simple as installing legends Power's Harmonizer, for example, is a great way to monitor and minimized voltage consumption and therefore conserve large amounts of energy over time.
Conservation can save money. Beyond the financial interest, it's also the right thing to do. And so help you save (and sleep better at night) we've compiled a checklist of energy saving ideas for your next commercial bathroom project.
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Tips to Save Energy in a Commercial Bathroom
1. Fix leaky faucets before they start
Leaky faucets can waste thousands of gallons of water, but they don't have to! They're so easy to plan for and fix, it's a costly mistake that often goes unchecked for months at a time. A leaky faucet can normally be identified visually, which introduces the primary reason these minor annoyances turn into big problems: Nobody is looking for them.
Even with the mandated use of low-flow fixtures and faucets, water use remains a major expense. Fortunately, facility managers have options to minimize commercial bathroom water costs. Contractors can jump in the mix and prevent leaky faucets from happening in the first place.
Electronic faucets are a very effective means of reducing water use. In a typical installation, they can produce water savings in the range of 50 to 80 percent when compared to manual faucets. While the units are more expensive to purchase than manual faucets, the cost savings produced by using less water typically recover this additional first cost in one to three years.
Photo Credit: Three Mountains
2. Swap incandescent or fluorescent lighting to LED or OLED
Light Emitting Diodes, or LEDs, almost always consume less power than their older incandescent or fluorescent counterparts. And far and away the most significant advantage of LEDs when compared to traditional lighting solutions is their long lifespan. The average LED array lasts 50,000 operating hours or more. That's 2-4 times as long as most fluorescent, metal halide, and even sodium vapor lights, and more than 40 times as long as the average incandescent bulb. Bright LEDs installed into a commercial bathroom ceiling adds a feeling of safety and security while keeping moods elevated. Lighting dictates how people react to a room, a principle that extends from the stage shows to a commercial bathroom.
As a side benefit, LED arrays provide an additional layer of safety. The number one hazard when it comes to lighting in commercial properties is emission of heat. LEDs generate a fractional amount of heat compared to older technologies, which saves on building environmental costs as well as safety costs.
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3. Source water saving fixtures
Advances in the design of bathroom taps means that the amount of water used for hand washing can be massively reduced from previous decades. Utilizing modern technology such as thermostatic mixer taps can mean a huge reduction in the environmental impact, as well as a reduction in water costs.
High efficiency taps work by aerating the water, allowing for the same cleaning sensation while using a lot less water. In addition, installing flow limiters and low- flow toilets are other considerations that can win big with regards to hitting eco-friendliness targets. Tankless water heaters can also reduce storage costs and waste. Ensuring older water heaters and pipes are well insulated may also add to the benefits.
4. Add low flow toilets to the mix
Many modern commercial bathrooms come with dual flush toilets featuring user-selectable settings. Low flow toilets help save water, which sends an important message to users increasingly intent on " living green". While sending the right message is nice, over time low flow toilets can save thousands of gallons of water.
While traditional models use on average 3.4 gallons per flush, the leading low flow toilets only use 1.6 gallons, saving commercial building operators close to 2 gallons of water per flush.
Automatic flush valves for commercial bathrooms are also an effective means of reducing water. On average, automatic flush valves reduce water use by 50 to 70 percent when compared to manual flush valves. These units typically cost twice as much as manual valves, but the savings in water use can recover the cost difference in as little as two years. As with electronic faucets, automatic flush valves use batteries that typically last between two and five years.
Automatic flush valves also improve sanitation within the commercial bathrooms. Because they are typically touchless, they improve hygiene for the user. Touchless controls also eliminate a major maintenance headache for building personnel by doing away with the manual flush valve, which is frequently subjected to harsh treatment by users.
Photo credit: Flushometer
5. Incorporate recycled materials into the build
A high-footfall commercial bathroom is going to produce a lot of paper waste, so switching toilet paper provider to a recycled brand is the first obvious substitution that will reduce the impact a bathroom has on the environment. Along the same lines, utilizing recycled materials in the construction of the bathroom itself, such as responsibly sourced recycled wood and plastic, is a great large-scale green consideration.
Some quick benefits of recycling:
- Save natural resources - by making products from recycled material instead of virgin materials, we reduce the need to cut down trees, drill for oil, and dig for minerals.
- Save energy – it usually takes less energy to make recycled products. Recycled aluminum, for example, takes 95% less energy to make the new aluminum from bauxite ore.
- Save air and water – in most cases, making products from recycled materials creates less air pollution and water pollution than making products from virgin material.
- Save landfill space – when the materials you recycle go into the new products, they don’t go into landfills or incinerators, so land fill space is conserved.
- Save money and create jobs – by increasing your recycling efforts, You may need only small, 2o gallons garbage service, which causes less than standard commercial bathroom service. By purchasing products made with recycled content, we encourage manufacturers to use recycled materials.
6. Take care to properly ventilate
Bathrooms get wet. And smelly. Neither are good. A proper ventilation fan takes care of both, but may not require an industrial-strength unit to get the job done. Highly efficient, Energy Star certified bathroom fans can clear a room of moisture and noxious fumes quickly and quietly.
There are two basic ventilation strategies: Natural and spot ventilation.
Natural ventilation is the uncontrolled air movement in and out of the cracks and small holes in commercial areas like bathrooms. In the past, this air leakage usually diluted air pollutants enough to maintain adequate indoor air quality. It is also unpredictable and uncontrollable. Natural forces examples are winds and thermal buoyancy force due to indoor and outdoor air density differences.
Spot ventilation can improve the effectiveness of natural ventilation by removing indoor air pollution and/or moisture at its source. Is recommended for bathrooms or bathroom windows that are seldom opened in cold or hot weather. It's intended to reduce concentrations of moisture or pollutants in the living space. Spot ventilation systems exhaust clean commercial bathroom air along with the moist or polluted air.
To maximize effectiveness, exhaust fans should be located as close as possible to the sources of moisture or pollutants. Automatic or manual controls should be installed to allow the fan to operate when needed.
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7. High-speed, high efficiency bathroom hand dryers
Today’s hand dryers are much faster than previous generations. They are also more energy efficient and much more fun to use. In the old days business owners were afraid to replace paper towels with hand dryers because, while making the change would be good for the environment, save money and reduce maintenance hassles, warm air hand blowers took too long to dry hands.
Not only are they better for the user, and not only can you get more users through a busy bathroom, but they are vastly more energy efficient than traditional hand dryers. That is because they use less energy (say 1500 watts vs 2300 watts) and they are on for a shorter period. (Say 15 seconds vs 30 seconds.) There is one major trade-off to high-speed hand dryers: they are louder than slower hand dryers. There is almost a directly proportional relationship between time to dry and level of noise. However, the manufacturers are working on this issue and expect to see improvements soon. There are a lot of quiet hand dryers available, usually at a good price, but you are giving up performance, which we feel is more important.
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