One of the easiest ways to make a dent in your water consumption, and undoubtedly the most visible to consumers, is to revamp your bathroom and domestic services. It is also one of the easiest to perform, as the store can keep running uninterrupted throughout an intervention. Despite being a relatively small part of the store, the restrooms take up 17% of the water of a store! Here, you’ll find solutions, from easy fixes to complete revamps, that can help you save water, position your brand as green and save money.
Toilets and urinals An obvious place to start are the toilets. If the remodel is complete, the decision is simple: go with whatever uses the least water. The water consumption is usually defined in terms of gallons per flush (gpg). Newer toilets cut by up to a third the water used in a single flush. Old models use up to 3.5 gpf and can be replaced with ULFTs, which use 1.6 gpf, and HETs, which use 1.28 gpf. (2). Urinals can be changed to waterless urinals which eliminate the use of water. If the budget available to a bathroom remodel is limited you must estimate the amount of water used and saved. To do this accurately, separate women’s toilets, men’s toilets, and men’s urinals. A sample calculation can be found here. Once you do this, you can calculate the water saved per year and, multiply by the rate, the money saved (check to see if you qualify for a lower rate). If you’r looking for simpler interventions that can have an impact on your water consumption, consider the following:
- Have your building maintenance team test the bathrooms for efficiency and check for leaks (tiny leaks add-up quickly).
- If you’re using automatic flush systems and sensors, make sure they are not being randomly triggered; ‘phantom flushes’ can negate the benefit of a more efficient system.
- Make sure the right parts are being used when giving maintenance: a 3.5gpf valve can fit a 1.6gpf toilet, yet the functioning is radically different.
- Don’t tweak the toilets to use too little water: having to flush twice because of poor functioning will consume water.
- Paper towels and disposable seat covers are the most common cause of clogged commercial toilets; consider alternatives (sanitizers, air-dryers and continuous seat cover dispensers) (3)
Faucets Faucets are much simpler to tackle, at least in terms of equipment and material. Keep in mind the two main principles: reduce water flow AND duration of use. Unlike toilets, which are measured in terms of gallons per flush, faucets and showers are rated by gallons per minute (gpm).
- Install faucet aerators: easy to install and cheap (usually under $5 per faucet)
- Adjust flow to national standards: .5 gpm should be confortable.
- Install metering faucets (which shut-off after a given time-spam) or negative shut-off valves (where the user must maintain pressure to keep the water flowing)
- Consider getting rid of sensor-activated faucets, as studies suggest they increase water consumption.(2)
- Beware reducing the volume of the flow below standards: water may not mix correctly, increasing risk of scalding.
SOURCES: 1. http://www.allianceforwaterefficiency.org/uploadedFiles/Resource_Center/Library/non_residential/EBMUD/EBMUD_WaterSmart_Guide_Grocers.pdf 2. http://www.allianceforwaterefficiency.org/commercial_restroom_audit.aspx 3. http://www.allianceforwaterefficiency.org/Supermarket_Introduction.aspx