The Future of Plumbing Technology
January 17, 2008 - Contact FacilitiesNet Editorial Staff »
As water shortages grow nationwide and utilities prepare to raise water prices, managers in all types of facilities are taking a closer looking at a new generation of plumbing fixtures as part of their efforts to curtail water use.
One plumbing fixture manufacturer explains the evolution of plumbing fixtures this way: "The goal with any water-efficiency strategy is to reduce consumption but never sacrifice performance. The next generation of products under development will provide greater water efficiency with even better performance."
Customer expectations of plumbing products are evolving. One manufacturer describes the evolution this way: "Customers tend to understand the water conservation benefits of automatic faucets. Now they want faucet designs that match their restroom decor.
"First, we focused on functionality. Now, it's time to make them look great."
He says the next generation of his company's products will feature greater use of thermostatic mixing valves to ensure more reliable temperature, in the range of 3-5 percent variation, as well as new-generation capacitive sensing technology.
Managers also can expect fixtures that incorporate photovoltaic technology.
"Our newest product runs off available light in the restroom," says one manufacturer, adding they will incorporate photovoltaic sensors that gather and store power to operate the flush valve, eliminating the need for batteries.
Managers' interest in waterless urinals also is growing, says one manufacturer, noting the urinals have a green benefit beyond water savings. They also help cut overall greenhouse gases by reducing the amount of energy needed to transport water into, through and out of buildings.
In the search for the latest and greatest solutions to facilities' water woes, the manufacturer advises managers to be careful, saying, "As the trend towards further water reduction in things such as plumbing fixtures continues, I'd always caution folks to do their homework and find products that have a track record of success."