Guest bathroom is the central aspect of hospitality design, which evolving into more of a suite and spa-like environment to better enhance the guest experience. “In some cases, the spa can take up nearly half the room, and we’re even seeing designers turn the room module sideways in order to put windows and daylight into the bathrooms,” says RTKL’s Markham.
Another spa-emulating technique is pulling the tub from the plans in order to put more bells and whistles into the shower experience. Or for a quick, low-cost refresh, hoteliers are changing the bathroom décor with simple shower trim replacements.
What’s tricky here is striking a balance between luxury and water efficiency, says Goodin. “This is one of the greatest challenges we face, especially with the ever-growing emphasis on sustainable design,” she says. Goodin recommends that the industry put more weight behind educating guests on water consumption. For example, Building Teams are more commonly specifying dual-flush toilets, but if patrons are not aware of how to use them, then those savings are not being captured.
While low-flow and high-efficiency fixtures top the list of water-conserving products going into today’s hospitality facilities, there has also been some interest in modular fixtures and instantaneous water heaters. At the same time, Markham claims that because hotel plumbing systems are generally centralized with high peak-hour demand, these systems are not necessarily the most efficient. “Instead, we’re looking at ways to recapture heat and hot water—for example, solar heat or lost heat from air-conditioning systems,” he explains.
Other hoteliers are embracing instantaneous technology. “Our entire guestroom hot-water system is supplied by instantaneous steam water heaters, and they do a fantastic job of keeping recuperating time to a minimum,” says Conrad’s Lingle. With this technology, there is no need to heat a large amount of water to put in a storage tank, he adds. In addition, the Conrad Indianapolis has retrofitted its plumbing systems with water-restricting devices and auto-flush systems.
Hotel bathrooms must also withstand heavy use and abuse, so product durability is crucial. Metals products such as stainless steel and solid brass are often specified. In addition, high-quality finishes are important, according to the Rolling Meadows, Ill.-based Plumbing Manufacturers Institute (www.pmihome.org), with multi-step finish processes commonly being applied to such products.
Barbara C. Higgens, PMI’s executive director, also points out that the hospitality market has shown increased interest in the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating system. In its latest 2009 version, Higgens notes, water conservation is more heavily emphasized. As of that version, all LEED projects are required to reduce water consumption by 20%, and with “water efficiency” criteria representing 10 of 100 total points (not counting credits for innovation and regional factors), it is anticipated that water-conserving plumbing products will ultimately play a greater role in LEED accreditation. “Water efficiency also supports energy efficiency, as large amounts of energy are used daily to treat and transport water,” adds Higgens.
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