One of the primary concerns of many facility managers is how to make their workplace environmentally friendly. One of the best places to start is in the restroom – public restrooms use significant amounts of water and electricity. Additionally, disinfectants meant to kill bacteria can prove toxic to animal and human life. Fortunately, many alternatives exist that can make your restrooms more environmentally friendly.
High-Efficiency Toilets (HET)
An HET in your bathroom will use (depending on the model) 1.28 to 1.6 gallons of water per flush. A lot less than the old-style toilets, which use 5 to 7 gallons per flush. A lower water-footprint yields less water consumption and lower monthly water bills.
Engineers are still perfecting the design of low-flush toilets (LFT), which use even considerably less water and help reduce our exposure to bio-aerosols and surface bacteria.
It takes just a gentle movement to activate a dollop of soap, a spurt of water, the flow of air or the release of a sheet of paper to keep employees’ hands clean and our environment cleaner. Below is our list of the primary touchless equipment found in most businesses and institutions.
Touch-Free Soap Dispensers
These motion-activated devices are now common in corporate restrooms. A slight hand movement activates a pump that releases a programmed amount of soap. These low-waste gadgets help keep counters cleaner than the old manually-operated dispensers that leak soap granules or liquid blobs of hand cleaner on the counters.
Motion-Activated Water Faucets
Controlling the amount of water flowing into sinks and out through drains is easier with automatic faucets. Place your hand in front of the electric eye and the water flows. Remove your hand and the water stops. There are no small drips or water streams from handles that are worn out or not completely tightened.
Automatic High-Speed Hand dryers
Made to dry our hands in seconds, these energy-efficient machines can help reduce our dependence on paper towels. Although the high-speed air flow can be intense, it can be adjusted. Warm or cool air can be used, but the cooler the air, the more energy saved. The lack of paper towels means fewer trees are harvested, less paper is hauled to the landfills and less energy is used at recycling facilities.
Automatic light switches
Light-saving controls can be designed for any size company or institution. For a small or medium-size company with medium to low bathroom use, motion-sensor light switches are recommended to decrease energy use. These lights turn on when someone enters the room and turn off when no movement is detected. No forgotten lights are left on to burn during low-use periods, particularly at night.
Bathrooms in larger businesses or institutions will have an ebb and flow of foot traffic during a 24 hour period. Using lighting with the addition of automatic-dimmer lights, programmed to operate at a pre set time, can help lower wattage use. With less electricity used, fewer fossil fuels are burned and less carbon dioxide is expelled to heat up our atmosphere.
If a facility director is truly interested in maintaining a green restroom, LED lights have to be on the list. LEDs cost more up front than traditional fluorescent bulbs, but last longer; emitting up to 50,000 hours of light, while using up to 70% less electricity, saving you money in the long run. These green-energy bulbs more evenly distribute light than their competitors, don’t emit heat and don’t contain mercury – which ends up in our landfills.
To really commit to maintaining an eco-friendly bathroom, facility managers need to use cleaning products that aren’t harmful to people, animals or the environment. The labels of your cleaning supplies should list eco-friendly words and terms, such as: Non-toxic, biodegradable, phosphate free, natural fragrances, no dyes and recycled packaging. Green-clean labels don’t list chemicals, such as sodium hydroxide, ammonium hydroxide or sodium hypochlorite.
If you use a janitorial service, check that the cleaning company is as invested as you are in using non-harmful cleaning products that won’t expose their workers, your employees and clients, and the earth’s water supplies to harmful chemicals.
Staying committed to using eco-friendly products, especially during this pandemic, is challenging. But the EPAs List N contains many antimicrobial ingredients approved for use to keep your company’s employees and the environment safe.