As global water shortages begin to hit Europe, specialist companies like Franke Washroom Systems are drip feeding the specifying world with some clever ideas.
It is now official; Southern England is a drought area and, according to the Environmental Agency, may well remain so until Christmas 2012. Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, West Norfolk, and parts of Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire have had drought status since last summer.
In urban and corporate developments there is a real opportunity to maximise the benefits of advanced water system technology. This is nowhere better illustrated than in the design of modern washrooms. Toilets flush away 30% of all water used in the UK. And yet there are known efficiencies that make a difference. Dual flush technology can reduce usage by 25% and one waterless urinal can save 87,000 litres of water per year.
Modern washroom design is one area that can deliver massive efficiencies and cost savings using natural, durable and recyclable materials integrating water management and conservation systems. Franke Washroom Systems (also known as Franke Sissons) is one of the largest stainless steel sanitary ware manufacturers in Europe. Its products are designed to self close after use, recycle water or operate automatically in response to use. The company also incorporates advanced water management control systems that are software based.
Self-closing taps respond to pressure by the user and close after a short while using a mechanical internal cartridge mechanism, however the more advanced, and hygienic, electronic products are activated by a proximity sensor. Whilst the latter is more expensive initially, it can save 55,000 litres of water per year, recovering its cost in just 11 months.
Combined with a good hygiene regime, products such as waterless urinals offer designers a completely dry solution, but even traditional flushing systems can be made far more efficient through the use of technology such as water pressure monitors, timed flush controllers or even infra-red sensors that monitor users in the washroom.
Of course, the most holistic solution is to be found through the integration of software based systems and electronically operated fittings, such as washbasins, WCs, urinals and showers. The individual fittings can be linked together to form a network which can then be controlled and monitored centrally. Control functions can include scheduled hygiene flushing, thermal disinfection and peak-load optimisation.
Across sectors including Healthcare, Security, Education and Sports and Leisure, designers and architects are integrating these Water Management Systems with water delivery products that carry recognised efficiency standards like BREEAM, WRAS, and the Bathroom Manufacturers Water Efficiency Label, which is increasingly found on domestic products, as recognised symbols for water economy. A forty five minute CPD for architects on the subject of water management is available from Franke Washroom Systems as part of the companys education programme.
Yvonne Orgill, Chief Executive of The Bathroom Manufacturers Association, the initiators of the now pan-European Water Label scheme agrees, The Government set the industry a challenge and as an industry, we have risen to it. The Water Label currently appears on many retail and commercial products. With companies like Franke Sissons, at the coal-face of educating the business world about the opportunities for efficient water and energy use in every project, at least professional attitudes are changing.
Water is a valuable, important and expensive resource that designers of the future are learning to utilise efficiently and sparingly. In turn, large corporate organisations around the world are realising that without utilising these systems they may well be flushing good money away.
For a copy of the Franke Washroom Systems Water Management CPD or to receive a technical product catalogue email firstname.lastname@example.org