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Next Generation Green Restroom Design

Reducing Energy, Waste and Operating Costs in New or Renovated Facilities

February 2012
Sponsored by Excel Dryer, Inc.

By Peter J. Arsenault, FAIA, NCARB, LEED-AP

Continuing Education

Use the following learning objectives to focus your study while reading this month’s Continuing Education article.

Learning Objectives - After reading this article, you will be able to:

  1. Recognize the general characteristics of a green restroom including the definition of the high-efficiency factor in restrooms.
  2. Verify the current facts about water consumption in the U.S. and assess the range of water-saving products available to help reduce consumption in green restrooms.
  3. Analyze the cost, energy and environmental impacts that can be reduced by using high-speed, energy-efficient hand dryers instead of paper towels in both new and retrofit applications.
  4. Determine the elements of green restroom design that contribute to successful outcomes in green building programs.

Credits: 1.00 HSW

This test is no longer available for credit

Restrooms have been receiving increased attention recently in response to the need for greener and more efficient buildings, both new and existing. Architects, engineers, facility managers and others have become increasingly engaged in the need for high-performance design in restrooms which minimize energy use, reduce water consumption and decrease waste all while controlling both initial and maintenance costs. Fortunately, the manufacturing community has responded with a full range of new products that can be specified to achieve all of these objectives. While these products are often thought of for new construction, the latest offerings are also designed specifically for retrofit applications with integral handicapped accessibility compliance and features.

Green Restrooms Overview

In virtually all building types, restrooms are a cost center, not a profit center. This means they generate costs to operate and maintain but don't typically have the ability to produce any revenue or profits. Water, electricity, paper, maintenance and waste removal expenses add up quickly, impacting the bottom line. A building owner or manager will naturally want to find ways to minimize those expenses associated with restrooms. This is important in new construction of course, but there is also a huge opportunity in existing buildings where outmoded restrooms commonly use more energy, water, materials, and cost more money to operate than necessary.

In general, efficient design and planning of the restroom is usually the first place that a designer starts. Economizing the space used for restrooms is important, but equally so is the best determination of the quantity of fixtures, products and accessories located in the restrooms. Some will design to minimum code requirements while others will seek to expand beyond that for programmatic reasons. Either way, the goal is to match the right quantity of items to the quantity of people that are anticipated to use the restrooms. From there, the focus is all about efficiency, and in the case of next generation green restroom design, achieving high efficiency in all respects is critical. Upgrading existing restrooms or designing new ones with high-efficiency products will immediately save the building owner or manager time, money, energy, and help the environment as well.

Photo courtesy of Excel Dryer, Inc.


Originally published in the February 2012 issue of Architectural Record
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