The plumbing system in a commercial building has a bigger environmental impact than you may realize. The main reason is that many commercial buildings have fairly high water usage due to so many people using the sinks and bathrooms every day. Suppose you’re looking to reduce the environmental impact of your commercial plumbing and make your building more eco-friendly. In that case, we’ll explain some of the best and most effective options you should consider.

Ultra Low-Flow or Dual-Flush Toilets

Toilets are one of the main sources of water use in any building. It is estimated that toilets account for around 30% of the total water usage in residential buildings. This number is usually much higher in commercial buildings considering many of them don’t have kitchens, dishwashers, washing machines, showers, etc.

The U.S. federal government has mandated that all new toilets are low-flow models since 1994, but you still occasionally find buildings that have some of the old, higher-flow toilets. All low-flow toilets must use no more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush whereas older toilets typically use at least 3 gallons of water per flush.

While standard low-flow toilets are better than old toilets, there are still options that are more environmentally friendly and use less water. For instance, you may consider installing ultra low-flow toilets, which typically only use around 1.28 gallons a flush. While the difference between a standard and ultra low-flow toilet may not sound like all that much, the fact is that it can add up to significant water savings. That means you can reduce the overall environmental impact of your business while also saving quite a bit of money on your water bills.

Another excellent option is to opt for dual-flush toilets. As the name suggests, this type of toilet has two different flushing modes. That means there is a full flush that’s used to flush away solid waste and a half flush that you can use for liquid waste. On most models, the full flush uses around 1.5 to 1.6 gallons of water while the half flush only uses around 1.2 to 1.3 gallons.

This type of toilet is often a better option than ultra low-flow toilets since you can almost always be certain that solid waste will go down with a single flush. With ultra low-flow toilets, sometimes the flush isn’t strong enough. That means people may still have to flush more than once at times, which obviously results in increased water waste.

High-Efficiency Faucets

According to the EPA, the average flow rate for most faucets is around 2.2 gallons of water per minute (GPM). This is much more water than you really need to wash your hands effectively. This is why high-efficiency faucets can be such a good investment since most of them only use around 1.5 GPM.

That equals around a 30% improvement in efficiency, which means much less water will be used overall from people washing their hands. High-efficiency faucets are especially a good choice for commercial kitchens since they will help to reduce the amount of water used for washing all of your dishes, pots and pans.

Sensor-Activated Faucets and Urinals

Urinals are one of the plumbing fixtures that use the most water. Most manual-flush urinals use anywhere from around 2 to 3.5 gallons of water per flush, which is much more than what’s really necessary.

On some models, how long you hold the handle down when flushing also determines the length of the flush and thus how much water is used. This is where sensor-activated urinals have a major advantage since they only flush when needed and only use just enough water to wash the liquid waste down.

Some studies even suggest having sensor-activated urinals instead of manual urinals can reduce the water consumption from the urinals in a building by up to 90%. While your actual water savings probably won’t be this high, the fact is that sensors make urinals much more environmentally friendly by helping to reduce water waste.

Another advantage of sensor-activated urinals is that they are usually programmed to perform a “janitor’s flush” every 12 hours. This is basically just a longer, automatic flush that helps to clean out the urinal bowl to prevent unpleasant odors, which helps to keep bathrooms cleaner and more hygienic.

An even more eco-friendly option is to install waterless urinals. These urinals simply use gravity to carry liquid waste away. The way they are designed also traps sewage gases inside the body of the urinal to prevent unpleasant odors.

Sensor-activated faucets are also a great addition to commercial bathrooms. This type of faucet uses less water than a traditional faucet since it only ever stays on for a short time. You also don’t have to worry about anyone accidentally leaving the faucet turned on and wasting lots of water. Another advantage is that sensor-activated faucets are much more hygienic since you don’t need to touch the faucet handle with dirty hands to turn the water on.

Point-of-Use Tankless Water Heaters

Other than commercial kitchens and restaurants, most other commercial buildings have fairly low hot water requirements. In many buildings, hot water is really only needed in the bathrooms so that everyone can wash their hands properly. In this case, installing small point-of-use tankless water heaters in each bathroom is often much more economical and more environmentally friendly compared to having one or more traditional tank water heaters.

All tankless water heaters are quite a bit more energy efficient than tank water heaters. That’s because they don’t need to always keep the water hot and instead only ever run when hot water is currently needed. Another major advantage of opting for tankless water heaters is that they have a longer life expectancy and require much less maintenance than tank units.

While any type of tankless water heater can reduce energy usage and help lower your business’s carbon footprint, having a point-of-use water heater in each bathroom is often the best option. Point-of-use water heaters are meant to be installed near your hot water fixtures, which usually means either above or below the sink in each bathroom.

The fact that the water heater is nearby means there is almost no lag time from when you turn the faucet on until hot water starts flowing. This leads to much less energy usage compared to if you had a larger tankless unit that supplied hot water to all of the bathrooms in the building.

In that case, you’d sometimes need to wait for a minute or more before hot water finally started flowing. Not only would that waste much more water, but it would also waste energy since the water heater would need to run for longer.

PEX Piping

Most buildings use copper pipes for the cold and hot water lines, but PEX piping is quickly becoming a more popular option. PEX pipes are made from cross-threaded polyethylene, which is extremely durable and long lasting. It’s also considered a more environmentally friendly option than copper due to the environmental impact of copper mining. Many companies now also make PEX piping that is partially or entirely made from recycled plastic, which is yet another advantage.

If you’re searching for a reliable, experienced commercial plumbing contractor, look no further than Splash Plumbing. We’ve been helping Anaheim area businesses with all of their plumbing installation and repair needs since 1998, and we offer a range of solutions that can help reduce water usage. For more information on the ways we can help manage your property and make it more environmentally friendly, contact us today.

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