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Water Conservation: Going with the (Low) Flow
June 10, 2011 - Contact FacilitiesNet Editorial Staff »
I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, low-flow plumbing fixtures.
Restrooms are one of the major water users in commercial and institutional facilities. The Energy Policy Act of 1992 established maximum flow rates for restroom fixtures. As a result, facilities saw a significant reduction in restroom water requirements. Some early-generation, low-flow devices were not very effective, but today's devices perform at or above the level of devices in use before low-flow requirements went into effect.
Restroom renovation programs today must incorporate devices that meet these requirements. When considering restroom renovation options, managers should consider the standards as established as a minimum. Some devices on the market today can reduce the use of water even further. While the cost of these devices typically is higher than those that meet the minimum standard, managers should consider the trade-off between long-term water savings and increased first costs.
Equally important to the selection of low-water-use devices is the type of controls installed on those devices. One of the most effective controls for reducing water use is the touchless, electronic control. When added to restroom faucets, they can reduce water use by up to 80 percent, compared to manual controls.
Electronic, touchless flush valves typically reduce water use by 50 percent. Managers must evaluate the trade-off between low first cost and long-term water savings. Depending on the application and the level of use, electronic flush valves and faucet controls will pay for themselves in three-twelve months.