Sustainability in Bathrooms
05/12/2011 | Sustainability in Bathrooms The Bathroom Manufacturers Association The award-winning Bathroom Manufacturers Association is at the forefront of the UK bathroom industry, representing manufacturers in the key areas of sustainability, designing for special needs, training and education, technical issues, marketing and lobbying. The BMA is a trade association which has represented the interests of the bathroom industry in the UK for well over 100 years. As the ‘Voice of the Bathroom Industry’ the association has developed close working relationships with government and non-governmental bodies both at home and abroad. It acts as an information highway between the industry and its customers, installers, government and media, and represents the industry at UK and European Product Standards committees and at the European Commission. Today the BMA represents 50 major bathroom manufacturing groups and service providers, with 76 well-known brands. The membership employs over 10,000 people across 73 sites with a combined annual turnover exceeding £1Billion. Based at the Keele University Science and Business Park, and operating from low carbon offices, the BMA is at the leading edge of UK bathroom manufacture. Sustainability There is one topic above all others which has a relevance in any region of the world. In some areas it is a priority and in others less so. It is the topic of Sustainability. Sustainability, water and energy consumption, and 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. Today, water and energy efficiency play key roles in the UK Government’s drive to reduce water consumption and carbon emissions. There is a growing imperative to balance supply with demand, not only here in the UK but globally too. 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 BMA members have been completely overhauled. Bathroom products are now 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 their creation of water efficiency ‘tools’. Water & Energy saving products We have seen some major breakthroughs in product design recently and many of the products installed in today’s bathroom are more eco-friendly than ever before. WCs, with super-efficient flush, are now quite common place. Reliable and branded products, which conform with the regulations and are guaranteed to actually work, are here to stay. Effective average flush volumes of 3 litres (down from the 13 litres of the 1960s) are available at realistic prices and are no longer ‘special.’ Some products are designed to recycle “grey water” by combining 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. Greywater recycling The requirements of both the Code for Sustainable Homes and Approved Document G of the Building Regulations are encouraging housing developers to install greywater recycling. One definition of greywater is that it is the wastewater from showers, baths, washbasins, washing machines and kitchen sinks which can be collected and, after basic and minimal treatment, be used for other purposes around the home such as flushing the toilet or watering the garden. These are uses which don’t require perfectly good water of pure drinking quality. Typically, a basic simple domestic system will collect greywater and store it before reusing it to flush the toilet or divert it to the garden. A more complex system treats the greywater to a standard that can be used in washing machines. Note that care must be taken not to use dirty water to irrigate crops. Systems for flushing the toilet can save around a third of the daily household water demand. A trial by the Environment Agency showed a range of water savings from about 5 per cent to 36 per cent. As newer properties tend to have lower toilet flush consumption, the maximum savings in a new build might be closer to 20 per cent. The cost-effectiveness of greywater recycling is as variable as the systems themselves. The amount saved will depend on volume of water saved, the price of the mains water it replaced and the cost of installing, running and maintaining the system. More information is available from the BMA’s new ‘eco-zone’ web pages at www.bathroom-association.org/eco-zone The Water Label BMA members and staff have worked hard recently to develop the Water Efficient Product Labelling Scheme (The Water Label) and the recently introduced Water Calculator. The Water Label 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 The Water Label 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. Over 1000 architects and specifiers now use the calculator on a regular basis.
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