Energy efficiency in bathrooms

Encouraging efficiency in bathrooms

  • 3 Aug 2017

Tiles Direct explains how builders can utilise green building practices to promote energy efficiency in bathrooms and, subsequently, the construction industry as a whole.

As the construction industry adapts to keep pace with the needs of consumers and the planet, the demand for sustainable solutions in favour of once normalised building practices has risen substantially. Whether we look towards other industries for inspiration or we simply innovate our way out of our existing mindset, it’s clear that a transition to sustainable design must, and is already, taking place. 

Of all the rooms in a house, the bathroom is often one of the largest consumers of overall energy and resource. 

Considering this, we’ll be looking at how builders can utilise green building practices to promote energy efficiency in bathrooms, giving you a glimpse of what the future might hold for bathrooms in new-build houses.

Water consumption

In older homes, toilet cisterns can flush an astonishing 9 litres of clean water every time they are used. In an age where clean water is at a premium outside of the Western world, this number is quite shocking. 

With the average UK citizen using 150 litres of water a day, and 30% of that accounted for in toilet flushing alone, the construction industry is at the forefront of the battle to greatly reduce this number.

There are a number of eco-friendly alternatives to the typical single-flush toilets many of us have at home, including dual-flush toilets that give the user the choice between a larger flush or smaller flush. The trapway for this toilet type is also considerably larger than the standard siphon system, which ensures it can use less fresh water to get the job done.

Besides toilets and clothes washing, showers are the third greatest consumers of water at home. Installing water-saving showerheads as standard can be a big step forward for eco-conscious construction companies, despite costing relatively little. 

Consumers are unlikely to notice the change in pressure, as these heads aerate the water so you feel like you are getting the same flow. It’s these small integrations that can make a huge difference when implemented across thousands of new homes, requiring a little extra effort for a big environmental gain.

Materials

Designing an energy-efficient bathroom means incorporating eco principles from the core, including materials and fittings. Of course, lights should always be low-energy LED, and underfloor heating should be fitted underneath bathroom tiles, where possible, to save on radiator costs. 

Wood should be sourced sustainably and FSC-certified. You can use naturally environmentally-friendly wood types, like cork or bamboo, that grow back at a substantially quicker rate than oak or exotic alternatives.

As it becomes clearer that the typically human way of doing things is no longer sustainable, everything from the plaster walls we touch to the concrete floors beneath our feet should be sourced fairly and responsibly. With new technological innovations, materials that were once deemed unfeasible in a green construction project are being developed to become so. 

Whether you’re using recycled steel beams throughout the entire home or even straw bales as an eco-friendly insulator in the bathroom walls, there’s a sustainable component for just about every element of construction, including bathroom builds.

Innovative assembling

In recent years, the rise of ‘pod’ bathrooms has been far-reaching. With student accommodation being built at breakneck speed across the UK, pre-built bathrooms have become commonplace to facilitate faster assembly on site. Though this is an undoubtedly quicker method on projects that require hundreds of identical bathroom models, the opportunities bathroom pods present go beyond simple time efficiency. 

Looking into the early stages of pod construction, the techniques used to assemble these models are inherently lean, saving both time and material resources.

As time goes on, these modular bathrooms are becoming increasingly eco-focused, with modern innovations such as water-efficient toilets and sustainable materials used as standard within each one. 

As construction companies constantly look to improve processes, this innovative method of bathroom assembly could become the norm in all new-builds in the not-too-distant future. If this becomes the case, the opportunity for energy efficiency to be rolled out across bathrooms in construction projects nationwide is great.

What makes this an asset?

For many businesses – not just in the construction sphere -– most decisions are based on the bottom line. If something costs less than an alternative and can deliver the same result, then it’s a no-brainer to go with the cheaper option. 

However, the reason this way of thinking is an issue in construction is because that it’s the construction industry that has the greatest opportunity to improve sustainability practices across the UK as a whole. 

Because of the current UK housing crisis, an astonishing 300,000 homes must be built each year just to keep up with demand. If all of these homes are built to the same standard of energy efficiency that we’ve had for decades, our environment will suffer. 

But if we see this as 300,000 chances to improve our construction practices and support the environment at the same time, we will have made a huge leap in progress.

It is an asset not only to the environment, but to the construction industry as a whole. Leading the way in eco-friendly practices, we can forge our own path for the future of UK construction. 

Whether you focus on efficiency in bathrooms alone or you integrate green building practices throughout the entirety of each project, remember that every new home will have an impact on our environment.

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