Why Green The Restroom?
When facility managers think about green solutions, the first considerations often tend toward the big picture — the view from 30,000 feet. They think of the economies available from large energy-using systems — lighting and HVAC — or from improvements that will reduce the load on those systems, like cool roofing and efficient windows.
Unfortunately, restrooms are often overlooked. Green options for restrooms, like many other green facility choices, combine environmental benefits with quantifiable returns from operating cost savings. But with restroom products, another consideration comes into play: improved hygiene. In some cases, products can offer all three benefits.
What’s more, restrooms can impress everyday users when they include green or hygienic choices. Toilets and urinals left running, for example, can simultaneously turn away users and add cost to the bottom line. Neither is desirable.
As water conservation grows increasingly important, more and more facility managers are considering restroom upgrades. These installations often produce significant bottom line savings, such as in waste-disposal costs. Less quantifiable returns include improved public relations, productivity — because a hygienic restroom can reduce the number of sick days taken by employees in an organization, thereby boosting overall productivity — and benefits from becoming LEED certified. The latter is increasingly important, says Alan Gettelman, director of marketing for Bobrick Washroom Equipment. The concept and attributes of green construction continue to receive coverage and demonstrate that good corporate citizenship can provide positive public relations.
So how should facility managers think practically about the three main restroom considerations — economics, efficiency and cleanliness?
Visitors and occupants always remember the restrooms in a facility. Efficiency remains important, but so does a sense of cleanliness and hygienic quality — achieved often via restroom impressions.
According to a study cited by Oscar Wientjes, global channel and segment marketing director for Technical Concepts, facility managers can enhance a company’s image through the cleanliness of the washroom. Research shows that approximately 70 percent of building visitors rank finding a clean washroom as extremely important.
Daily cleaning is important, but not enough on its own. In frequently visited or high-volume washrooms, it is always a challenge to keep a consistent standard between cleanings. The entrance of a facility gives the visitor a first impression, but the restrooms determine the lasting impression, says Wientjes.