GREENVILLE, SC—As hotels increasingly embrace and tout impressive green programs, the act of water conservation is the low-hanging fruit of sustainability that should remain top of mind. The random running toilet and faucet drips can add up, impacting a hotel’s bottom line and the comfort of its guests.
“You have to pay for water even when it’s dripping and when it goes down the drain. People don’t realize the cost of water going down the drain could be three times more because of the sewer costs,” said Linda Seigler, Eastern regional sales manager – foodservice division, T&S Brass, a manufacturer of commercial faucets and fittings based here.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average hotel with 150 guestrooms could save up to 760,000 gallons of water, and more than $7,000 in water costs annually, if older fixtures were replaced with more-efficient, water-conserving models. As an EPA WaterSense partner and member of The Alliance for Water Efficiency and U.S. Green Building Council, T&S is deeply committed to sustainable practices.
“As a company, we want to leave this a better place for future generations and, from an ethical point of view, it’s also an opportunity for us to show the customer what we have available and bring an added value to the table,” said Seigler.
In the hospitality industry, restrooms and food service are among the biggest drains on the resource, according to Seigler.
“In the kitchen, it’s critical as this area is one of the biggest uses of hot water. Toilets are a main area, and it’s one of my pet peeves when a toilet is running constantly and water is going down the line,” she said. “Use water-conserving fixtures—for example, a low-flow spray valve—and make sure the faucets aren’t leaking and are in good shape. The cost of repair is less than the cost of water going down the drain.”
For hotels seeking analysis specific to their properties, T&S Brass provides a water audit service where they visit a facility; measure the fixtures and fittings; and then deliver recommendations on water savings in a detailed report.
A renovation is an ideal time to revisit the water usage at a property, but hotels can assess their plumbing maintenance procedures anytime as a way to shore up excessive consumption and expenses.
“Anytime you’re making a change, the time to do it is when you’re renovating. There are some changes you can make to a product that will allow you to save energy and the cost of utilities. If you’re using less water, then you’re spending less money and energy,” she said. “Also, make sure you maintain the water systems, so there’s no drips. One drip of water wastes about 3,000 gallons of water per year, according to the EPA.”
Seigler further illustrates the impact of inefficient water usage this way: “If you’re a hotel with 150 rooms and 10% have a leaky faucet or shower, that’s 15 rooms times 3,000 gallons of water per year. That’s 45,000 gallons of water going down the drain.”
Among the changes hotels can implement right now: “In the rooms, go with low-flow toilets, shower heads and faucets,” Seigler noted. “In public restrooms, go with center faucets as studies show they save one gallon per hand wash. In the kitchen, add low-flow spray valves and flow restrictors on the faucet prep sinks.”
In the battle of form vs. function, Seigler believes the effectiveness of the plumbing fixtures and fittings should come first.
“Sometimes you go too low flow and, then, there’s not enough water for flushing or water for the guest’s toothbrush. Be sure the fittings and fixtures fit the purpose and still give you the water savings and energy savings you’re looking for,” she said.