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Water in washrooms

Interview with WhiffAway Group Business Development Manager, Michael Mynard

The pressure is on for all facilities managers to deliver measurable improvements in environmental sustainability, while paying close attention to improving efficiency and reducing expenditure. Saving water is a top priority and washrooms have traditionally been problematic, with FMs wasting time and money on recurring issues, while seldom actioning permanent solutions. BFM talked to WhiffAway Group Business Development Manager, Michael Mynard, to discover the real issues and how they can be resolved.

Saving water makes a positive sustainability contribution and saving money is a business imperative. Are these elements sufficiently prioritized by busy facilities managers?

Judging by the number of sites I see where basin taps are high pressure, WCs are leaking, and urinals are flushing frequently, I would say that water conservation in washrooms requires greater attention.

What steps should a facilities manager take to identify water usage in washrooms?

There are many essential functions within every washroom where water can be conserved. The first step is to identify these areas and review options and methods to cut this water use. It is important to remember that the value of water is not determined by cost alone – as water is low cost compared to energy – but is both a scarce resource and critical to the environment.    

What specific steps should a facilities manager take to reduce water usage in washrooms?

Exploring the opportunities to save water with attendant cost and payback proposals is an important step, as many facility managers are not fully aware of the technology options available today.  

Urinals are an obvious starting point, but where else in a washroom is water over-used or wasted?

Urinals are, indeed, an obvious starting point as they consume a high proportion of water, while in fact they actually function better without using any water at all. That’s why WhiffAway developed its waterless urinal technology over 25 years ago.

Basin taps are one of the simplest, low cost and surprisingly overlooked areas of a washroom. How often do you turn on a tap, to be presented with a forceful gush of water that is completely unnecessary and wasteful?

WCs also commonly waste water because facility managers do not realise that WC flush volume can be controlled to optimise performance and save water.    

What are the typical savings in both water and cost when waterless or water-reduced urinals are installed?

Typically, urinals account for between 15-25% of washroom water use, so removing water flushing generates an immediate annual net cost saving. They also cut the cost of maintenance through eliminating a major cause of blocked urinals – water lime-scale – from urinal traps and common waste pipes.    

Measured in terms of savings, typically how long does it take to recover the investment in switching to waterless urinals?

It is rare for the payback period to be in excess of 12 months when the cost savings in water and maintenance are combined.

How often should a facilities manager review water and energy usage in washrooms?

All washrooms require regular review of water and energy usage, but this can be difficult where there are many washrooms in a building. Today, there are smart technology solutions that make this an easier task by using sensors to provide instant and accurate data on water and energy usage across many washrooms. This is definitely the way forward for effective facility management and conservation of water and energy within washrooms.

What are these technology-based solutions for measuring and monitoring water usage?

WhiffAway Group has created a smart washroom platform where almost any function within a washroom can be monitored remotely and alerts can be generated. As well as saving water, this produces a dashboard of data that can be easily analysed to recognise trends and identify over-usage and opportunities to save water, energy and maintenance resources. Heathrow Airport is an example where this data has been gathered by our smart technology platform and we would be delighted to share our knowledge and findings with others.  

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