Hotel guest baths can be sustainable without sacrificing style

NEW YORK—There was a time when “being green” meant recycling bottles, cans and newspapers; however, now the art and business of sustainability extends virtually to every facet of hotel operations and design. A key area for owners and operators remains the guest bathroom, where water, heat, energy and linen conservation all come together in one—usually small—space.

Providers of FF&E are well aware of the impact a hotel being green can have on guest perceptions and experience, as well as a hotelier’s bottom line, and have, therefore, been pushing the environmentally friendly envelope on products.

For example, the new Sydney Smart 305 one-piece toilet from Caroma features the firm’s proprietary “Smart Technology.” The unit has two buttons for flushing: The half flush uses 0.8 gallons per flush (gpf) for liquids and the full flush uses 1.28 gpf for solids, making it one of the lowest consumption high-efficiency toilets (HET) on the market with an average flush of 0.9 gpf, according to the company. 

The SS 305 presents a contemporary design with a 16.5-in. bowl height (floor to rim), and is available in round and elongated bowl options suitable for ADA installations.

The company’s Flow Showerhead also targets water efficiency with a nominal flow rate of 1.5 gpm at 80 psi. The showerhead includes a nozzle that pressurizes water to produce a uniform spray estimated to save up to 10 gallons more water than a standard 2.5 gpm showerhead (for a 10-minute shower).

According to Derek Kirkpatrick, general manager, Caroma North America, “For many hotels—boutique and larger—water conservation and the associated costs have become of utmost importance, both in providing products that give guests the best experience,  while also watching the bottom line. We are finding that hotel facility managers are becoming more sophisticated about the products they choose for new construction and retrofits.” 

He noted, “Products like our Sydney Smart are WaterSense labeled, which ensures they meet low-flow standards, look great and are guaranteed to save the hotel money while, at the same time, being mindful of the need for water conservation.”

Brooklyn, NY-based Watermark Designs’ Watermark ID division has developed the Luxury Shower System (LSS), also a “smart” system that is fully customizable.

The LSS offers a personalized shower experience with a full-color digital touchscreen. The flush-mounted screen with a thin, 1/8-in. frame and thermostatic valve controls up to four shower outlets, has the ability to control shower lights, offers a connection to any audio device with headphone jack, and has nine programmable, preset shower scenarios that allow users to set the user’s name, water temperature, water outlets, speaker volume, lights on/off, water consumption timer or shower duration timer. According to the company, the LSS helps conserve water and energy, and also tracks water usage through a Green Statistics function.  

Avi Abel, CEO of Watermark ID, said, “Recent digital advancements are giving hoteliers opportunities to provide guests with a more personalized experience. Digital shower systems, specifically, are one place where hotel owners can give their guests a dose of high-tech while conserving water and energy. Watermark ID’s LSS, for example, offers a customizable hospitality screen in which brand logos can be easily uploaded. A full-color digital touchscreen gives hotel guests the opportunity to control shower lights and connect to any audio device. Hotel staff can also set the hospitality mode to lock out certain setting menus, such as shower duration or the number of water outlets that can be on at one time. It’s a great way to create a customized hotel bath experience…something more hoteliers and designers will be looking to do over the next few years.”

Another commode meeting green standards is the Ilbagnoalessi One toilet by Laufen. The toilet meets requirements for both ADA and EPA WaterSense tank-type HET specifications, with an average of less than 1.28 gpf. 

Mike Teresso, general manager, Laufen North America, noted, “The contemporary aesthetic is still quite strong; architects and hotel designers want unique, well-designed bathroom products that differentiate their projects without breaking the budget.” The Ilbagnoalessi One wall-hung toilets are suited to installations where space is an issue and a contemporary aesthetic is desired.

In terms of vanities and vessels, Stone Forest’s trademarked SYNC Drop-In Vessel Bamboo Sink recently won the Green Good Design Award for utilizing bamboo, a renewable resource that is harvested without the use of pesticides and fertilizers. The sink features the same minimalist design and stainless-steel grid drain covers from the original SYNC series.  

All products from designer/manufacturer Xylem, including its KA vanity collection, are compliant with the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The CARB regulation limits formaldehyde emitted from raw composite wood panels and products sold or used in California. In a statement, Xylem founder, Hal Weinstein, said, “We believe in the CARB measures, and we’re committed to doing our part to help. It’s the right thing to do.”

Arch-Interiors Design Group president/founder Christopher Grubb also is on the same page with his New York Collection, which includes the Greenwich bathroom vanity in a variety of models. Available in a single- or double-vanity style, Greenwich is constructed of solid, zero-emissions wood and veneers, engineered to prevent warping. It features a medium-tone wood finish that continues throughout the interior of the cabinet for a seamless look. The vanity has ample storage and soft-close doors and drawers with brushed-metal pulls. Dual-stained coordinating mirrors complete the design.

“Surprisingly, I often get asked if green is only a trend,” said Grubb. “With the technology and consciousness of being environmentally sensitive, the option to always choose sustainability in design should be paramount. Hotels, being a destination with large numbers of lodging guests, should always make the same conscientious choice with their interiors, as well as their branding. It further educates the public on the importance of being eco-friendly. And with so many great designs available that are green, they can also be eco-chic.”