Water

Necessity drives collaboration in bathroom design

21/06/2011 | Necessity drives collaboration in bathroom design Here we go again. We are running out of water. There has been a very dry spring in some parts of the British Isles and drought conditions are affecting us once more. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has said that areas of East Anglia are in drought, with parts of the Midlands, South West and South East in a ‘near-drought’ state. And it’s not just here in the UK since large areas of northern Europe are facing drought after one of the driest European springs on record. Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, has held drought summits to review the impact of the continuing dry weather and has said that water companies are confident that supplies are high enough so that widespread restrictions to the public are unlikely. “We're doing all we can to reduce the impact on agriculture and wildlife, but everyone can play their part.” And that’s the point. We can all play our part. Collaboratively. The bathroom industry and interior designers can work together to create bathrooms which still give the bathing experience we have come to expect, but use far less water than ever before. With careful, clever and creative design, bathrooms can play a major part in making our buildings more water and energy efficient, with minimum carbon footprint and maximum sustainability. Recent technical breakthroughs in bathroom product design have had an impact. Super-low-flush WC suites are steadily replacing the 9 litre water gulpers which are still so common. The latest 3 litre dual flush pans are no more expensive than their single flush 6 litre counterparts but their consumption figures speak for themselves and savings can be made. Some manufacturing members of the BMA have gone a stage further and have introduced WCs which are flushed with the ‘grey-water’ waste from the shower tray or bath or with harvested rainwater from the roof. Showering and bathing have seen real innovation too. The design of eco-showerheads which mix water with air to create a champagne-style drenching effect has reached maturity; as have digital shower controls which, by default, are more eco-friendly. Low volume baths have been brought to market which use mouldable memory foam materials to save interior space and save the volume of water required. To assist interior designers, specifiers and architects the BMA introduced the Water Efficient Product Labelling Scheme. This on-line database of water efficient bathroom products has grown exponentially in the last twelve months. Over 1500 products in nine categories are now listed together with their 1100 nationwide stockists. Designers can use the WEPLS database together with the accompanying ‘water calculator’ to identify the best available products to ensure that their bathrooms fully meet, or even exceed, the requirements of the regulations. www.water-efficiencylabel.org.uk They can also consult individual BMA members’ websites to get the up-to-date product information – the latest links can be found at www.bathroom-association.org/members.asp Creativity in the use of these new products is critical. Interior designers are being encouraged to specify the most sustainable products to give householders and commercial enterprises the opportunity to save water, save energy and save utility costs. Interior designers and architects, some with easily recognised and high profile names are also being enlisted by bathroom manufacturers to add their own unique style to products. Bathroom design has seen several step changes in the last few years. Breakthroughs in technology and style have been brought about by interior designers and industry collaborating for the benefit of us all. Long may it continue.

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