Consider this: Standard commercial buildings in the United States pour through an average of 9.5 billion gallons of water every day, according to GreenBiz.com, a leading environmental responsibility information resource.
Now think about how much more water is consumed every day at waterparks, pools and other aquatics facilities.
Whatever type of aquatics facility you manage, a few easy changes can have a dramatic impact on water savings, especially showers.
A wide variety of valves, showerheads and options are available to meet individual needs, and selecting the right shower equipment is crucial. A wise choice can aid in water conservation, which translates into energy and cost savings, ease of maintenance, resistance to vandalism, and compliance with codes and regulations. Plus, patrons are certain to notice — and appreciate — updated shower fixtures.
Here are four factors to consider when upgrading or redesigning shower areas to maximize water conservation and savings, and minimize maintenance costs.
1 Traffic patterns. In upgrading shower facilities to reduce water usage and costs, it’s important to bear in mind the traffic flow.
In high-volume showers, such as those located near pools and used primarily for rinsing off, consider fixtures designed for commercial use that offer vandal-resistant features. A stainless steel shower model is a product that is quite vandal-resistant. And because column showers utilize the center of the shower room — a place otherwise void of such apparatus — they can be an efficient option for accommodating a high volume of users.
2 Flow control. To curb water usage, low-flow showerheads can be placed on any shower type, wall or column. Different flow controls can be placed in the showerhead to limit the gallons of water per minute delivered from the showerhead.
Showers also can be equipped with a valve that runs for a preset amount of time, so the water won’t be left running when not in use. To prevent susceptibility to humidity or moisture, shower units that have the metering valve electronics sealed within push-button housing are recommended.
3 Cleaning and maintenance. When it comes to changing areas, it is vital that showers offer a fresh, appealing finish to invite usage. Stainless steel showers or other solid-surface units are an attractive alternative to tile, and may be easier to clean and maintain.
In addition, column showers in the center of the room can minimize water spray on the outside walls, making it easier to care for the shower room.
Hinged, pivoting wall showers are another option that may be ideal for budget-conscious aquatics and recreation centers. The special hinge door simplifies installation and ongoing maintenance, which saves time and money. By removing vandal-proof fasteners from one side of the shower panel, the unit swings away from the wall, providing easy access to components.
4 Water temperature. Regulating water temperature depends on whether you want users to be able to adjust the temperature. Other than schools or prisons, most facilities do, so it’s important for showers to include a pressure-balancing or thermostatic mixing valve that will prevent scalding. One option is a shower fixture with a pressure-balancing valve that incorporates European ceramic cartridge technology.
Ceramic cartridges help reduce maintenance costs because they have no wearing parts to replace. They are also reversible to allow for back-to-back installation with a common wall, saving on installation and construction costs.
Though installing more efficient fixtures may add costs upfront, their advanced technology will save money over the building’s life cycle, and your facility also can benefit from less maintenance and greater resistance to vandalism.
If conserving water and cutting costs are goals at your facility, focusing on showers is just a start. Installing low-flow hand sink fixtures and toilets, and waterless urinals, for example, can potentially reduce water consumption by more than 30 percent. This means savings on water and sewer bills and energy costs for heating water.
Moreover, many of these money-saving strategies will help spruce up the overall look of locker rooms, and that kind of advantage makes a positive impact on everyone, from owners and management to staff and guests.