Efficient Yet Effective Bathroom Design

Throughout the UK, showers account for the largest use of water within domestic properties, totalling over 840 billion litres per year. As the nation’s water supply continues to face significant stress, Martin Walker, CEO of Methven, explores the opportunity architects, specifiers and designers have to help protect the UK’s diminishing water supply by improving the water and energy efficiency of upcoming residential and commercial developments.

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In 1960, each person used around 85 litres of water per day. Fast forward to the present day, and on average, 150 litres are being consumed per person, per day, with this figure continuing to rise. This increasing consumption is placing significant pressure on the UK’s outdated water infrastructure, with the latest predictions estimating that between 2025 and 2050, the UK will need more than 3.4 billion additional litres of water per day to meet future demand for public water supply.

As showers use the greatest proportion of water throughout a residential development, architects and specifiers should use the bathroom and en-suite as the starting point when looking to minimise the overall water usage of a property. By achieving this, professionals can also subsequently reduce the amount of energy used, as the Energy Saving Trust estimates a staggering £2.3bn is spent each year heating water for showers.

A radical approach to residential

Currently, residential properties must adhere to Part G requirements, which stipulate the maximum water usage of a property must be no more than 125 litres per person, per day. The regulations also outline an optional requirement of 110 litres per person, per day, which architects and specifiers should look to consistently achieve to ensure the property is as water efficient as possible. However, this shouldn’t have to be achieved by compromising on the quality of performance or aesthetics.

When the first water-efficient showerheads entered the market over a decade ago, they set the precedence that sustainable showering practices could only be attained by radically impacting the overall showering experience. Typically housed within a cheap white plastic construction, the point of delivery for the reduced water usage was so poor that many individuals reverted to their usual showerheads.

This combined experience set a bad reputation for water-efficient showers, with many turning to the overhead drencher showers to deliver an immersive, full-body shower that they could enjoy, every single time. However, whilst the overall showering experience was increased, so too was the water consumption, as these types of showers often use at least 15 litres of water per minute.

To overcome this, the latest technological advancements have analysed the point of delivery to identify how the showerhead can achieve varying spray patterns to deliver full-body skin contact whilst simultaneously using a reduced frequency of water.

For example, twin-jet technology delivers over 300,000 droplets per second, generating optimum water droplet size and pressure to rival the experience of a power shower. The difference is that this technology can operate at just 5.7 litres of water per minute, a fraction of the 15 litres typically used.

Other technologies, including Aurajet, produce 20% more spray force when compared to a conventional shower and twice the amount of skin contact whilst using as little as five litres of water per minute. This is due to invisible nozzles generating individual jets of water colliding against precisely angled surfaces hidden within the contours of the showerhead to create a dense fan of droplets.

As the level of water is substantially reduced, so too is the energy required, supporting potential occupiers in effectively reducing their long-term water and energy bills. By specifying the latest showering technologies such as this, architects and designers can achieve the very highest standards in efficiency, without negatively impacting the overall showering experience. By also specifying tapware that features flow regulators, professionals can effectively reduce the level of water used, down to just four litres per minute.

Key learnings for commercial

It’s important that these approaches to sustainable bathroom practices are also applied to commercial and hospitality projects, as the UK’s hotel industry and wider tourism sector have a significant impact on water and energy usage.

According to the Sustainable Hospitality Alliance, water accounts for 10% of utility bills for the average hotel. However, they believe it is possible to reduce the amount of water consumed per guest, per night, by up to 50%, by choosing sustainable technologies, such as showers, that use less than 10 litres per minute and tapware that operates at under six litres per minute.

By specifying these types of technologies for all types of residential and commercial developments, architects and specifiers can proactively set the standard for a new generation of bathrooms, en-suites and cloakrooms that have been designed upon the principles of functionality without compromising on form or finish.

This can be achieved by choosing technologies that are combined with on-trend finishes, such as matte black or brushed brass, and are supported by a complementary range of additional products and accessories to create a cohesive and effective visual appeal.

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