Sustainability is crucial

17/07/2011 | Sustainability is crucial There is one topic above all others which has a relevance in any country of the world. In some it is a priority and in others less so. Sustainability. This topic - the delicate balance between people and their environment – is more crucial than ever to our survival. In history, where sustainability failed, the consequences were devastating. The recent dreadful drought in the Horn of Africa shows yet again that the local population is at the mercy of the weather. Closer to home the driest Spring on record in parts of Europe has left us with the lowest reservoirs in living memory and closer still DEFRA announced drought conditions in parts of east Anglia and the Midlands just a couple of months ago. Water efficiency, and with it energy efficiency and lean and mean manufacturing, are key to our long term survival and the British government has announced that it is one of its priorities. The UK Bathroom Industry has recognised for a long time that it has a responsibility to ensure that its products are the most water and energy efficient and in less than a decade the product portfolios of members of the BMA have been completely overhauled. Bathroom products are more sustainable than ever. Bathroom manufacturers have responded vigorously to the drive for water and energy efficiency and they are playing an increasingly important role in designing and developing sustainable products. Drawing boards are full of ideas and virtually every new product now brought to market has sustainability embedded into its ‘DNA’. Members of the BMA are leading the drive for water efficiency both in their development of products and the creation of water efficiency ‘tools’. PRODUCTS We have seen some interesting and quite major breakthroughs recently and many of the products installed in today’s bathroom have been affected. WCs, with super-efficient flush, are now common place. They no longer grace the portfolios of a select few top-end manufacturers. They are now more widespread, and reliable branded products, which conform with the regulations and are guaranteed to actually work, are here to stay. Effective average flush volumes of 3 litres are available at realistic prices and are no longer ‘special.’ At least one product has been launched in the last twelve months which combines the function of the washbasin with the WC. Waste from the basin is diverted and stored in the cistern prior to being used to flush the toilet. This type of breakthrough thinking is both surprising and effective. Taps with built in eco-click and thermo regulating valves are freely available. These not only save water but save energy and are ultra-safe in the family bathroom. Eco-friendly shower controls and shower heads have enjoyed massive growth over the last few years. These, like click-taps, show huge savings in both water and energy consumption. The technology used to develop and manufacture these excellent devices is advancing fast. It was not so long back when the average new bath was filled with around 200 litres. Today, without much effort, a consumer can find a really comfortable bath with a capacity of just 130 litres. The most recent launch saw a bath of just 75 litres. TOOLS But how would a prospective bathroom buyer, whether a trade professional or a man in the street, choose the very best bathroom to suit their requirements? “They need the tools to do the job,” says Yvonne Orgill, chief executive of the BMA. “Our staff, who are now based in low carbon offices at Keele University Innovation Centre, have worked hard recently to develop the Water Efficient Product Labelling Scheme (WEPLS) and the new Water Calculator.” WEPLS has grown rapidly from a germ of an idea to a benchmark scheme which is now being copied in Europe and wider afield. The web-enabled database holds the details of over 1500 water efficient bathroom products which, by default, have the lowest carbon footprint. The scheme is increasingly recognised by consumers and professionals alike and from the Government’s point of view it is an important tool in their drive to meet the Green Agenda. Over 1100 stockists have registered their details with the scheme. www.water-efficiencylabel.org.uk/ The key to WEPLS is the product label itself which is similar in design to the familiar energy label found on white goods. It clearly shows the volume of water that the product will consume if installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions. In a recent statement Richard Benyon, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, DEFRA, praised and supported the scheme. He said “Water is an invaluable resource which needs to be managed responsibly. Whilst Government and industry can help make it easier to save water, taking personal responsibility is at the heart of water conservation. People need access to clear advice on how they can save water so I am pleased to support the Bathroom Manufacturers Association in their work to develop a labelling scheme which provides people with an easy means to identify water efficient products.” The statement from the DEFRA Minister shows that he and his department fully support the work of the BMA in driving the quest for water and energy efficient bathroom products. The product data stored in the database has now been put to good use in the new Water Calculator which is designed to make it easier for developers and builders to meet the new water-efficiency requirements of Part G of the Building Regulations and the Code for Sustainable Homes. The calculator was designed and developed by the BMA in association with Waterwise East. The Water Calculator at www.thewatercalculator.org.uk is the first of its kind and includes water-consumption information so that builders and developers can simply select from a drop-down menu of products to calculate the water consumption of a property. The tool auto-completes the calculations enabling quick and easy specification without the hassle of gathering data from product manufacturers. The results can then be printed off to give to Building Control inspectors and others involved in the assessment process. “BMA members are encouraged by the very positive reaction to their work in developing these tools” says Orgill. “The bathroom industry is playing its part in driving for a more sustainable future.”

◄ Back to the List of News Items