Latest research from Waterwise estimates that over 2 billion litres of water are used each day across Britain through showering, the equivalent to almost 800 Olympic-size swimming pools. With the Environment Agency predicting an extra 3.6 billion litres of water will be required each day by 2050 to meet the nation’s rising demand, here Martin Walker, CEO of Methven, explores how architects can help to significantly reduce the water usage of new-build developments, specifically within the bathroom.
As national water usage continues to rise at an alarming rate, architects and specifiers are under increasing pressure to improve the water and carbon efficiency of new-build properties. With the bathroom presenting the biggest source of daily water output, professionals have the opportunity to take a fresh approach to the technologies and products specified throughout these rooms to support the overall water efficiency of the property, without compromising on quality or aesthetics.
In 2016, the Government updated Approved Document G, requiring all new dwellings to achieve water efficiency of 125 litres per person per day, with an ‘optional’ requirement of 110 litres per person per day.
As conversations throughout the industry continue to address the potential for the optional 110 litres obligation to become the new legal requirement, architects have the opportunity to take a proactive approach to the showering solutions specified by choosing products that feature a flow rate of 8 litres or less.
This will not only ensure the property is compliant with current and future regulations, but simultaneously future-proof it, supporting the new homeowners in actively reducing their water and energy usage, and most importantly, their ongoing bills.
Historically, some water-efficient showerheads, particularly those at entry-level that are commonly constructed of white plastic, have gained a negative reputation with consumers for having poor performance and forcing compromise on the overall bathroom aesthetic.
While many of these products may have significantly reduced the flow rate of water used per minute, the overall function was so limited that individuals had to shower for up to twice as long, resulting in the same water usage level as a standard showerhead.
As a result, Methven research concluded this led to a proportion of homeowners being sceptical of water-efficient products and ultimately replacing the showerhead with their original, or less efficient, model to gain better performance and visual appeal.
So, how can architects help to minimise the overall water output of the bathroom, without compromising on the showering experience for future homeowners?
Latest advancements in showering technology deliver a new generation of high-quality, visually appealing chrome showers that feature a contemporary construction while also providing the lowest flow rates available.
This includes systems that offer a flow rate as low as 5.7 litres a minute, without compromising the overall showering experience for the homeowner through the development of twin-jet technology, which creates optimum water droplet size and pressure, delivering over 300,000 droplets per second. The result is a full-body showering experience that provides individuals with the highest performance standards, whilst simultaneously using less water.
Whilst the quality of the overall showering experience is essential; aesthetics are also a key priority for architects when specifying water-efficient showering solutions for new residential developments.
Taking the place of ordinary white sanitaryware is a new era of showering and wider bathroom solutions that offer both style and performance. This is showcased with the current popularity of matte black and metallic finishes, as potential homeowners search for monochrome bathrooms and en-suites that feature sleek, streamlined aesthetics combined with eye-catching highlights.
By choosing a complementary range of high-quality showers, tapware and accessories from a single manufacturer, professionals can create an effective and cohesive appearance throughout an entire bathroom that creates a first-class finish, whilst actively reducing water usage, yet increasing overall functionality.
Whilst the requirements outlined in Approved Document G may not be updated soon; architects have the ideal opportunity throughout next year and beyond to proactively improve the overall water efficiency of new developments by specifying innovative showering technologies that work to actively reduce flow rate, without also reducing performance levels.