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Plumbing Systems and Sustainability

Plumbing, green, renovations



I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is plumbing systems and sustainability.

Before taking on renovations or large-scale retrofits to improve water-use efficiency, maintenance and engineering managers should identify an approach for the project that will help them achieve the organization's sustainability goals. Properly specified, restroom faucets can help managers and their organizations achieve these goals.

Managers typically specify restroom faucets for three broad applications.

The first category is hand washing in public restrooms. Most codes require the fixtures use 0.5 gallons per minute (gpm). The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system requires these fixtures for public toilets.

The second category is for private fixtures occupants use for moderate hand washing and light bathing — face washing, shaving, or teeth brushing. Codes usually refer to these facilities as private lavatories. Common applications in this category are dormitories, gyms, locker rooms and workout areas. These fixtures also are appropriate for clinical areas, where workers must wash their hands regularly. For such applications, managers should not specify faucets that use more than 1.8 gpm.

The third category involves private fixtures occupants use for heavier hand washing, such as medical, culinary, and maintenance. These applications require more water. As a result, managers can specify 1.8-2.2 gpm fixtures. Most codes limit these fixtures to less than 2.2 gpm.

Finally, in some applications, users might have to actively clean and scrub their hands for a predetermined amount of time. In most cases, the water does not have to remain flowing during scrubbing. In situations such as this, managers can specify sensor-, foot-, or knee-operated fixtures.

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