The rising costs of water and energy have forced many businesses to examine ways to make their buildings more efficient. One option many building owners are implementing is installing water-and energy-efficient plumbing fixtures. The recent push to go green has caused most of the major plumbing manufacturers to begin designing new fixtures that use significantly less water compared to older fixtures.
- Water-efficient plumbing fixtures can include sink and lavatory faucets, water closet and urinal flush valves, water-free urinals, composting toilets and low consumption shower heads. Water conserving faucets for both sinks and lavatories can use anywhere from 25 to 75 percent less water than traditional faucets.
- High-efficiency toilets (HET) are fixtures that use 20 percent less water per flush than traditional water closets. If a fixture is leaking, or more than 20 years old, replacing it with a HET could result in 60 percent less water usage.
- Dual-flush valve toilets are capable of reducing water use by up to 38 percent. These devices allow the user to choose high or low water volume flushes for either solid or liquid waste, which can reduce water consumption by approximately 25 percent.
- High-efficiency urinals use less than the mandated 1.0 gallons of water per flush (some models use only 0.5 gallons per flush).
- Waterless urinals are also available from some manufacturers. These fixtures funnel waste into a cartridge, through a biodegradable sealant liquid, then down the drain without using any water.
- Low consumption shower heads are typically regulated to use between 1.5 and 2.0 gallons of water per minute—an average of 20 to 40 percent less water than older, less-efficient models.
Not only can upgrading your plumbing fixtures help you save water, there are fixtures available that provide energy savings as well:
- Solar-powered faucets draw light from any source, even artificial light, convert it to energy and then use that energy to supplement the faucet batteries. This can triple the life of the batteries, ultimately reducing the frequency for changing and disposing of the batteries.
- Turbine-powered faucets allow the flow of the water to spin a turbine located inside the faucet, which creates and stores power for the automatic sensor. For this type of automatic sensor faucet, the batteries serve as a back-up system and can last up to 19 years. This saves energy and reduces the frequency for changing and disposing of batteries.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has started a partnership with plumbing fixture manufacturers, called WaterSense, in an effort to produce quality, water-efficient products. A WaterSense label will appear on toilets and faucets that meet the EPA’s water efficiency and performance criteria. For a list of WaterSense products, visit the EPA’s website at http://www.epa.gov/watersense. If you would like more information on these water- and energy-saving plumbing fixtures, please contact Eric Sellers, PE at 717-845-7654 or firstname.lastname@example.org.