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4  FM quick reads on Plumbing

1. Easy Cleaning Key to Restroom Savings


One essential measure of efficiency for managers seeking savings in restrooms is ease of cleaning. The less time spent cleaning a restroom, the better. To minimize cleaning times, managers should give careful thought to restroom materials and fixture selection.

Tile is a tried-and-true restroom material that has a long life span, but managers should not view tile as low-maintenance material because cleaning grout lines between tiles can be laborious. Managers specifying tile for floors or walls should consider installing large-format tiles to minimize the amount of grout requiring periodic maintenance.

Vinyl floors and wall coverings also deserve a second look. The lack of seams in sheet vinyl makes it easier to maintain than other options, and it is easier to replace. Manufacturers produce vinyl in many attractive styles, and the cost of vinyl flooring makes it one of the cheapest options available.

Managers should be aware that the production of vinyl comes with an environmental cost: It is manufactured using chlorine gas and phthalate plasticizers.

For large expanses of walls, moisture-resistant gypsum board and paint suitable for the wet, humid conditions of a restroom might be the simplest solutions. Housekeepers can wipe painted walls, and repainting these surfaces generally is fast and cheap.

Managers also should consider installing a backsplash behind sinks, and tiles might be suitable when used in small amounts. Alternative materials to consider include glass, mirror, marble, and waterproof wall panels. These materials can come in large panels and, unlike tiles, have few joints, which can lead to leaks.

To ensure more efficient and effective restroom cleaning, managers should consider specifying wall-hung fixtures instead of floor- or surface-mounted fixtures. Also, replacing a floor-mounted water closet in a restroom retrofit can be an expensive and, therefore, impractical undertaking because it will involve rerouting drain lines.

Managers also can replace counter-mounted lavatory faucets by relocating water pipes to the wall. This eliminates faucets on the counter, which are obstructions to efficient counter cleaning.


Plumbing: Water-Conservation Strategies

I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, water conservation strategies.

Maintenance and engineering managers already have begun to master the ins and outs of energy efficiency. But energy isn't the last word when it comes saving resources and operating a greener facility. Water efficiency is quickly growing as a green building and operations strategy.

A comprehensive water-management plan is the key to using water efficiently. Managers can start by gathering stakeholders in the organization to develop a list of water-management goals, incorporate water efficiency into long-term facility operation objectives, and address the resources necessary to achieve water-saving goals.

Understanding the price of water and wastewater is important when evaluating project cost effectiveness. Managers can determine costs by checking water bills and contacting utilities. They can collect data from waters meters — or submeters, if available — to calculate the facility's total annual water use and identify seasonal trends or abnormalities.

Restrooms, locker rooms, and other areas with plumbing fixtures offer obvious options for water efficiency. Besides regularly checking these areas for leaks, retrofitting restrooms with more water'efficient plumbing fixtures can produce significant water savings, as well as reduced energy costs from heating the water for sinks and showers.

WaterSense labeled models of tank'type toilets, flush urinals, and showerheads are independently certified to use at least 20 percent less water, and they perform as well as or better than standard models.

WaterSense labeled faucets and accessories use about 30 percent less water than conventional lavatory faucets. As with all WaterSense labeled products, each model is certified to meet strict criteria for efficiency and performance. A 100'employee office building that installs WaterSense labeled flushing urinals could save 26,000 gallons of water per year based on an average of two flushes per day.


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