The air that I breathe

Dave Carson from P-Wave says that although washrooms play an essential part in our health, comfort and wellbeing, all too often they fail to reach the required standards; but it doesn’t have to be that way.

The Hollies, and later Simply Red – though we won’t talk about that – had a hit containing the lyric “Sometimes, all I need is the air that I breathe…”. I’ll be honest and admit I’m pretty sure they weren’t talking to about washrooms, but you could be forgiven for thinking they may have been given the unpleasant aromas that envelop all too many of these facilities. Sometimes visitors really are left gasping for breath after taking a ‘comfort’ break.

A facility’s washroom is rarely neglected – and often there will be inspection records or even customer feedback buttons to prove it – but unfortunately they often look and smell like they are a low priority to the buildings management. Even with high specification fixtures and fittings and regular cleaning, the overriding impression can be of an unpleasant pong, making a visit a less than favourable experience.

The power of smell

It is a very subjective topic, but many believe smell to be the most powerful of our senses. Whether that’s true is for better minds than mine to decide, but smell certainly plays an important part in our lives, whether evoking memories or warning of danger. When you are exposed to a bad smell you certainly know about it. This makes getting the washroom experience right vital to the overall impression of your building. Even if facilities are cleaned regularly, a bad smell will give the opposite impression, so the last thing you want to leave people with is a lasting memory of an unpleasant smell.

Given the disproportionate amount of a facilities manager’s time and effort washrooms involve, it’s no wonder that there are many hundreds of products on the market looking to resolve the issue. However, unfortunately many air freshening options just don’t live up to their inventively scented names or last the distance. The right products can beat the smell over a sustained period of time, tackle odour causing bacteria and reduce maintenance issues, such as blocked drains.

Five hints to help tackle nuisance odours

  1. Air fresheners

Perhaps an obvious option when taking on bad smells, but get the right one and it really will improve the atmosphere in your washrooms. Look for products containing strong, pleasant fragrances that can effectively mask bad odours. These can make an immediate and long-lasting improvement. Users should feel welcomed by the scent rather than repelled by an unpleasant stench. As well as whole room air fresheners, look for washroom specific products like toilet bowl clips and urinal fresheners.

  1. Everything in its place

The main cause of bad smells in the washroom is bacteria from urine in drains or splashback on the floor. Once the only way to tackle this was to drop a scented blue block into urinals and hope for the best. However, with new products 95% of splash back can be prevented thanks to new protrusions on urinal and trough screens.

This keeps urine off the floor and grouting where it would soak in and cause a bad smell, even with regular cleaning.

  1. Keep the pipes clear

Debris such as discarded bits of chewing gum or tissue can cause blockages in pipes resulting in slow flowing water or worse blockages and overflows. These can be minimised by choosing urinal or trough screens which can trap this sort of material and stop it getting into the drains.

  1. Get additional help

It’s not just the cleaners who help reduce the smells in washrooms, products which include the right enzymes – or odour controlling ‘good’ bacteria – can help eliminate malodourous ‘bad’ bacteria which feeds on urine. Cutting out the smell at source in this way is far more effective and environmentally friendly using an array of harsh chemicals.

Reduced chemical use has many advantages, not least from a health and safety point of view as there is less danger of spillage.

  1. You get what you pay for

It’s easy to think all products are the same, or that it’s not worth investing in washroom products. I think it’s worth paying that bit extra for quality as it can soon bring its rewards. For example, the best urinal screens will combine a strong air freshener, with splash back control and odour tackling enzymes; removing the need to buy separate products. Top quality products can last a month resulting in cost savings in the longer term and reducing the time spent cleaning the washroom and purchasing products.

…And to love you

Washrooms are crucial in maintaining building users’ health and wellbeing, especially through hand washing. However, a bad smell can put people off using them, or staying long enough to wash their hands properly – with the result that germs are more likely to be spread throughout a facility, with a likely impact on sickness and absenteeism.

The second part of the song lyric mentioned earlier is, of course, ‘…and to love you’. Now I’m not saying a better smelling washroom will make your visitors and staff fall in love with you, but by providing hygienic and lasting solutions, you and your building could certainly go up in their estimation!

www.p-wave.co.uk

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Survey hoists need for assisted toilets

Shopping venues are being given proof of the benefit of providing wheelchair-accessible toilets with extra facilities.

A survey among campaigners for assisted toilets with an adult-sized changing bench and hoist (Changing Places, Space to Change facilities) revealed:

  • 99% of respondents would visit the retail centre with these facilities over one without
  • 94% would stay for a snack, meal if there were suitable toilets
  • 83% said they would stay longer, spend more in a retail environment that had suitable toilets
  • 68% usually had three or more people with them when visiting a retail environment.

“The figures speak for themselves: footfall, time and spend would all increase if a retail venue catered for people who need help to go to the loo when away from home,” says Robin Tuffley, marketing manager for Clos-o-Mat, the UK’s leading provider of hoist-assisted accessible toilets.

“20% of the UK population today is disabled, up to 14 million people, who spend £212 billion a year! A large percentage need a little extra space, and or equipment of a changing bench and/or hoist for intimate care – people who otherwise either can’t visit an outlet, or have to cut their visit short if there aren’t suitable facilities.

“Under current legislation and best practice, these facilities should be provided. The survey gives venues a tangible business argument to install them.”

Clos-o-Mat is the only UK company fully equipped, in-house, to provide the resource necessary to provide appropriate disabled changing toilets with a bench and hoist (Changing Places and Space to Change facilities).

Uniquely, Clos-o-Mat offers, in-house, a full support service, encompassing site surveys, design advice, supply, installation, commissioning, staff training and subsequent service & maintenance.

Clos-o-Mat’s website, www.clos-o-mat.com,  also includes full support data, including white papers, CAD blocks, video, technical specifications and typical layouts.

 

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Community Centre encompasses everyone’s needs (in matters toileting at least!)

Objectives of developing confidence and self-esteem are being achieved with a holistic approach to people’s needs at a Midlands community centre.

East West Community Centre, in Leicester, is the only Centre of its kind in the city, and county, to now offer a Changing Places assisted accessible toilet. Supplied by Clos-o-Mat, Britain’s leading provider of such facilities, and installed by F Stimpson (Leicester), the room gives 12m² of space, with a ceiling track hoist, peninsular toilet, height-adjustable washbasin and adult-sized changing bench.

The project, which involved refurbishment and remodelling of the building- funded by Leicester City Council- to accommodate the space on the ground floor, and give unimpeded, level access, was shortlisted for a regional design award.

“It has definitely made a difference, helping to attract many people from the local community to use our facilities. Since installation the spacious and modern toilet and hoist facility has made our centre more inclusive; It means a lot of people who otherwise be housebound and isolated  can come and enjoy time here and socialise with others as we provide various services: Day Care, Luncheon Club, Women’s Group,  Exercise Sessions, etc.” says manager Ushma Mehta.

“We aim to draw service users out of isolation, develop confidence and self-esteem; having appropriate toilets is just one element, but a vital one, of that- without them, people can’t stay as long as they would like, in case they need to ‘go’.

“Other groups in the community are getting to know about it, and are using the centre because of the facility. We just need even more to know about it, so even more people get out of isolation.”

Adds Kelvin Grimes, Clos-o-Mat assisted accessible toilet project manager, “We go to the loo about eight times a day, so the chances are, if you’ve gone out, you will need a toilet. Without toilet facilities like this, many people feel that they can’t go out, because they need extra space, or lifting, or have continence issues.”

Under latest Building Regulations and good practice guidelines, a Changing Places toilet is ‘desirable’ in buildings to which numbers of the public have access. Since their introduction a decade ago, almost 900 have been opened across the UK. Under British Standards, a Changing Places is in addition to conventional (Building Regulations Document M) wheelchair accessible toilets, and provides 12m2, with additional equipment including an adult-sized height adjustable changing bench and ceiling track hoist.

Clos-o-Mat is Britain’s biggest provider of fully accessible toilets, in domestic environments and ’away from home’, including a substantial number of Changing Places facilities.

Clos-o-Mat is unique in its ability to deliver- in-house- design advice, supply, installation, commissioning, project management and maintenance across the ambit of accessible toileting equipment, including the Clos-o-Mat wash and dry (automatic) toilet. To help venues  ‘get it right’, Clos-o-Mat has a raft of downloadable information on its website, www.clos-o-mat.com, including white papers, CAD blocks, room renders and videos.

Tel: 0161 969 1199; Email: info@clos-o-mat.com

Potential users of an away from home assisted, accessible toilet include:

  • 1.5 million wheelchair users
  • 6.5 million people who have either bladder or bowel incontinence
  • 1.5 million people with a learning disability
  • 1.2 million people living with stroke
  • 62,000 amputees
  • 30,000 people with cerebral palsy
  • 13,000 people with acquired brain injuries
  • 8,500 people with multiple sclerosis
  • 500 people with motor neurone disease
  • 8,000 people with spina bifida
  • 3.8 million adults morbidly obese

 

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Designing Accessible Washrooms

By Brian Ford, Specification Manager, Dolphin Solutions

One in five people in the UK has a disability. Workplaces and public spaces have the responsibility of ensuring that there are suitable accessible washroom facilities available for staff, visitors and customers. Whilst fully accessible washrooms require more accessories to make them fit for use, there is no reason that the washroom can’t be equally as striking as the building’s other facilities and match the same standards as the rest of the building.

When designing an accessible washroom, to ensure that you are complying with Document Part M regulations or BS8300 2010, there are a number of considerations which need to be taken into account.

Firstly, it’s no good creating a beautifully functional washroom if it’s inaccessible. There needs to be adequate space for manoeuvring outside the bathroom door, 1.5m x 1.5m is the minimum. Ideally, the door should open outwards and be light enough to be opened and operated with a clenched fist.

Inside the washroom

Once you are inside the washroom, which should measure at least 2200mm x 1500mm, it needs to be visually clear and easy to use. Designers and architects must use Light Reflectance Value (LRV) ratings to ensure there is a good visual contrast between various elements of the building, including doorways, fixtures and fittings. Colours are rated on a scale of 0 to 100, with black being 0 and white being 100.

Guidelines state that the LRV of the wall should be 30 points different from that of the floor and the ceiling, whilst the LRV of the door furniture should be 15 points different from that of the door to be compliant. Chrome plated accessories for example, tend to reflect the background colour of the surroundings and can in some instances make grab rails more difficult for the partially sighted to see. A satin finish or solid colour are the preferred options. Toilet seats must also have a colour contrast e.g. a white floor with a blue toilet seat.

A user-friendly washroom

When looking at an accessible washroom, there is much more to the placement of the toilet, sink and accessories than is immediately obvious. For example, the sink unit must be placed close enough to the toilet so that users can wash and dry their hands whilst seated on the toilet, making it more accessible and easy to use for wheelchair users. A hand dryer and hand towel dispenser must also be near to the sink for this reason, and the use of both hand drying options is recommended to suit varying needs of accessible washroom users.

A tap that can be operated using a clenched fist is important. A touch free sensor tap is an acceptable alternative which saves water and energy and helps reduce cross contamination. Toilet roll and soap dispensers must also be placed in a prominent location and easy to use for people with the use of only one hand.

Government guidelines provide an interesting overview of a scenario highlighting the importance of washroom layout. To fully understand the difficulty of an awkwardly arranged washroom, try the following: “Whilst sitting on a chair, lift your legs off the ground, stretch your arms out in front of you and see how far you can reach forward without losing your balance. You will find it is not very far.”

The usability of accessories can sometimes be overlooked, however if products are considered in a different way, a number of alternative uses can be identified. Shelving for colostomy bags is a good example – guidelines state that a shelf must be installed for colostomy bags, however if there is an exposed cistern in place, the top of this may also be used as a shelf.

Top tips for staying stylish

Accessible washroom facilities can be equally as contemporary and stylish as other washroom facilities. Here are some essential tips to keep front of mind when designing or updating an accessible washroom:

  • There is no need to stick to plain white fittings. Washroom fittings come in a variety of colours, shapes and sizes so there is plenty of opportunity to make the most of the varying ranges available to make the final finish stylish.
  • Streamlined accessible washrooms can be achieved by being clever about how washroom accessories are used. Doubling the use of certain fittings can save on space and money, whilst still looking great. For example, there needs to be a shelf adjacent to the door where a wheelchair user can place a bag.
    A wall mounted waste paper bin can be useful in this instance as they can double up as a shelf, assuming the hole for used towels is at the front of the bin and not on top.
  • It’s essential to ensure that washroom accessories such as grab rails, in addition to the toilet and sink, are positioned and installed at the correct height to meet with building standards.
  • Choosing options that are easier to clean such as roseless grab rails will keep the washroom looking smart for longer.

For more information, visit: www.dolphinsolutions.co.uk

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Platinum award success for Axis Cleaning and Support Services

The Axis Cleaning and Support Services teams at the Clacton Factory Outlet centre and the Harvey Centre have achieved the top ‘Platinum’ accolade at the 29th annual Loo of the Year awards, dubbed the ‘Toilet Oscars’.

It is the sixth consecutive platinum award for the Clacton Factory Outlet and the fourth for the Harvey Centre.

The awards, which celebrate the very best washrooms in the UK, are judged on high quality and consistent cleanliness and were presented at a high-profile industry ceremony at St John’s Hotel, Solihull on 2nd December, 2016.

Simon Giles, Axis Cleaning Chief Operating Officer & Axis Group Finance Director, says Axis-cleaned washroom facilities are consistently recognised by these Awards as best-in-class:

“Both the Clacton Factory Outlet and the Harvey Centre are long-standing customers for Axis and achieving this Platinum award every year for six years and four years is testament to the excellent staff, as well as first-class training. Our congratulations to both teams, who have worked so hard to deliver the best results.”

“We know that clean, presentable and tidy washroom facilities at retail outlets are central to a customer’s overall experience,” says Simon. “So our teams work hard to provide the right kind of environment, and this work ultimately supports the centres’ reputation.”

http://www.axis-css.co.uk

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New Distribution Contract for Hills Rotary Dryers

Freudenberg Household Products LP has signed a new distribution agreement with DF Sales for their outdoor rotary dryers brand, Hills.

Hills Rotary Dryers, which was established over 70 years ago in Australia, has long been a firm favourite within the building trade, due to its heavy duty design and durability. The brand is currently stocked by builders’ merchants including Travis Perkins, Toolbank and independent hardware wholesalers.

Commenting on the partnership Lora Finn, Laundry Shopper Product Manager said: “This marks a significant milestone in our journey to establish Hills as the number one rotary brand in the UK. Although we have already established significant contracts within the building trade sector, we are confident DF Sales is strategically placed to take further advantage of growth in the sector.”

DF Sales, which also distributes Vileda in the sector, on behalf of Freudenberg Household Products LP, will sell the range of nine dryers and accessories, which are guaranteed for between two and ten years, depending on the rotary, and include:

  • 30m 4 arm Builders Special – an ultra-heavy duty fixed head rotary airer which allows the height of the lines that to be set at time of installation
  • 35m 4 arm Supex Hoist – an ultra-heavy duty fixed head rotary airer with a hoist mechanism and breeze brake to prevent rotation when loading
  • 60m 4 arm Supadry – a heavy duty domestic rotary clothes airer, with hoist mechanism, breeze brake, a ground socket with locking collar, coat hanger holder and inner and outer tensioning devices
  • 35m 3 arm Handiline – a domestic rotary clothes airer, with twist grip lift and lock elevating mechanism, easy to use handgrip and line tensioning feature
  • 35m 3 arm Portadry and 45m 4 arm Portadry – a domestic rotary clothes airer, with twist grip lift and lock elevating mechanism, strong tubular steel stay supports, line tensioning device, coat hanger holders and painted arms
  • 30m 3 arm Airdry, 35m 3 arm Airdry & 40m 4 arm Airdry – a domestic rotary clothes airer which is compact and easy to fold, raise and lower and three position handgrip

DF Sales managing director, Rob Austen added: “Our experience of working with Freudenberg Household Products LP has been excellent and we are totally committed to extending our sales expertise to encompass Hills. We are perfectly positioned to take the brand to the next level, using our dedicated sales team who already have established links in the industry.”

Hills outdoor rotary airers offer a wide choice of drying options based on space, durability and cost. Made from durable galvanised steel to prevent rusting, the airers are phthalate-free, ensuring they meet the latest Health & Safety guidelines.

For further information on Hills Rotary Dryers visit: www.DFSales.co.uk

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Popular National Trust garden demonstrates its green credentials with Mitsubishi Electric Jet Towel

One of the National Trust’s most eco-friendly properties aims to inspire its visitors to a more sustainable way of living and has chosen Mitsubishi Electric Jet Towels in preference to other types of hand dryer.

Nymans Gardens in the High Weald of Sussex was laid out over 120 years ago with plants collected from around the world. The grand house at its centre was ravaged by fire in 1947 and for many years the National Trust presented it as a romantic ruin. More recently, a small number of rooms were refurbished and opened to the public. Today, it is still a garden lovers’ delight and often booked for weddings and other outdoor receptions.

The ethos of the site’s management is very much focused on sustainability, so it is little wonder that they chose one of the most energy-efficient hand dryers for its several sets of bathrooms.

The National Trust runs properties and open spaces all over the country, to which its two million plus members and non-members are welcome. The energy saving of a single Mitsubishi Electric Jet Towel compared to a conventional blower dryer is multiplied over and over again across the many properties in which they have been installed.

Mitsubishi Electric Jet Towel works on a completely different principle to the evaporative technique of hot air blowers. You place your hands into a slot in the top of the unit, which activates a high-speed jet of air. This flows over the hands pushing the water downward to the finger tips, from which it falls into the integral drain of the Jet Towel dryer.

Typically, this takes from only 9 seconds, a fraction of the time taken by old style blowers. This, coupled with the fact that the motor within the Mitsubishi Electric Jet Towel is very efficient, leads to an energy saving of around 90% each time the unit is used.

In fact, blowers are so slow that most people give up and walk away with still-wet hands, which can compromises hygiene, as people may be left with bacteria on their hands, which they then transfer to door handles etc.

Mitsubishi Electric’s Jet Towel Business Development Manager, Fawn Terry, explains: “Jet Towel is completely non-contact in use, so bacterial transfer is virtually impossible and as a safeguard all of its surfaces have an anti-microbial coating.”

Other advantages of the Jet Towel include its low-noise operation (58-61dB), ease of maintenance and the enhanced user-experience. Running costs are lower than a hot air dryer, paper towels, or roller towels.

Mitsubishi Electric Jet Towel is also proving popular at The National Trust’s world famous Stourhead Estate, where they were initially installed alongside traditional blowers. An automatic counter was used to determine which option visitors preferred, with the Jet Towel winning hands down. www.jettowel.co.uk

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UK manufacturer announces new toilet alarm control panel

Baldwin Boxall is pleased to announce the introduction of a new toilet alarm system which will be available in October this year. The control panel certainly looks stylish and is packed with some great features. Baldwin Boxall staff at Firex reported that this system received a lot of interest from visitors to their stand at this year’s International Firex.

Users of the system will like the fact that a quick glance will show the location of an incoming call. It is then a simple matter of pressing the relevant ‘call accept’ button (there is one for each toilet alarm connected) and then providing the assistance required.The person waiting for help will immediately know that someone is on the way, due to a change in both the visible and audible alarms – a true method of reassurance (and therefore fully BS8300 compliant).

Electricians and engineers will like the simplicity of installation as only one mains connection is required – there is no need of additional power supply boxes or inputs. Furthermore, a single power connection to one panel will feed up to nine other control panels and all corresponding toilet alarms (additional panels are simply ‘daisy-chained’ from the first one).

Each control panel has the ability to control to up to four toilet alarms, represented at the panel independently with space for zone labelling. There are four ‘call accept’ buttons and ‘call incoming’ LEDs, making the location of any incoming call immediately obvious. If more than one call for help is received at the same time these will also show on the panel; responder(s) are able to independently accept the call they are answering. The programmable alarm ‘re-sound’ feature will operate if a call, which has been acknowledged, is not reset at the point of call within the specified period of time.

The design team at Baldwin Boxall has also considered the possibility that the panel may be installed in an area which is not constantly manned. This is resolved by connection of a separate indicator/sounder to the output provided on the panel. The remote indicator/sounder can be installed in an area such as a reception and will alert staff to an unanswered call.

Another benefit of the system is that it is self-monitoring and will alert staff to a problem (‘short’ or ‘open’ circuit). It does this by the illumination of two LEDs on the panel (‘Fault’ and the ‘Call Indicator’ for the affected toilet alarm).

Available in a choice of finishes – white or brushed stainless steel – the toilet alarm panel is certainly a great solution for many projects. More information can be found on the company’s website: www.baldwinboxall.co.uk/disabled-toilet-alarm-kits or by contacting the marketing team marketing@baldwinboxall.co.uk.

Baldwin Boxall is based in Sussex in England and all its products are designed and manufactured in the UK to a very high standard. The company has a very clear mission statement (which can easily be found on the website (www.baldwinboxall.co.uk) and is proud of its position in the industry.

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Red is the colour – Virgin Trains choose Colani toilet seats for on-board refresh

Virgin Trains have chosen a vibrant red Colani toilet seat from Pressalit Care for their fleet of East Coast Mainline trains.

Matching Virgin Trains distinctive corporate colours, the Colani toilet seat offers a range of special features that makes it the ideal choice for on-board installation where comfort is a chief consideration.

Andrew Lowndes of Pressalit Care says, “Always seeking to enhance their customer experience, Virgin Trains are implementing a £21m refurbishment of their East Coast Mainline trains. This includes a refresh of the on-board toilet facilities, for which they have selected the Colani toilet seat for its comfort and stability.”

Pressalit Care’s Colani toilet seat has a number of specially designed features for user comfort. Stabilising buffers are fitted at the front of the rim, while a cross bar hinge along the back creates a secure seating position. The ergonomic curved bowl of the toilet seat features raised side edges for added strength.

The Colani toilet seat is produced from thermoset plastic with stainless steel strap, in red, as well as blue, white and anthracite.

As with all Pressalit Care products, the Colani toilet seat has been tested to the highest degree, statically up to 375kg.

www.pressalit.com or email uk@pressalit.com

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Changing the options for accessible toilets

Making ‘reasonable adjustments’ to the built environment to ensure compliance with the Equality Act is being made easier with the launch of a new solution for ‘away from home’ accessible toilets.

Space To Change toilets plug the gap between conventional (Building Regulations Approved Document M 2013) wheelchair-accessible toilets, and the ‘desirable’, additional, larger and better equipped Changing Places+ toilets.

The concept enables venues that are limited financially and/or on space to meet the needs of up to three million British children and adults* who need changing and lifting facilities for their personal hygiene. It encompasses a 7m2+ (3m x 2.5m min) wheelchair-accessible toilet that further includes an adult-sized changing bench and a hoist. Space To Change has been developed with leading Changing Places campaigners and Clos-o-Mat (Britain’s leading supplier of disabled toilet solutions at home and away). Firefly Community, an online special needs community, will drive the campaign, supporting campaigners and raising awareness of the need for accessible toilets that include height adjustable changing benches and hoists.

“So often, venues and organisations say they understand the need for a Changing Places toilet, but, in existing buildings, as it should be provided in addition to other accessible toilets, they haven’t the extra space- 12m2- or cannot afford the cost of potentially extensive building works to create the additional space, and the ancillaries and equipment,” explains campaigner Tony Clough.

Adds fellow campaigner Sarah Brisdion, “Under the Equality Act, providers are required to make reasonable adjustments to the built environment to avoid situations where a disabled person would be at a ‘substantial’ disadvantage, BEFORE the person experiences difficulties. Not being able to access suitable toilets is, we believe, a substantial disadvantage.

“In an ideal world, we would always prefer to have a Changing Places, but Space To Change gives a viable alternative for providers constrained by space and/or money. Without these facilities, we either have to lie our loved one on the toilet floor- which you wouldn’t even expect to do with a baby- or we have to cut our trip short, or not go at all. Many wheelchair-accessible toilets are already big enough, so all that is required to create a Space To Change, which gives everything needed, is the addition of the changing bench and hoist!”

Full details of the Space To Change concept, plus technical support, CAD blocks etc, can be found at www.clos-o-mat.com and http://community.fireflyfriends.com/campaigns/space-to-change.

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