Form, Function & Eco-Sense in Bathrooms
Efforts towards conserving water and energy have drawn fresh focus on washrooms as an important area in a sustainable building construction
By Seema Gupta
The sanitaryware market today is offering technological improved products with significant water and energy saving features. These include dual flush toilets, sensor-based faucets and flush systems, waterless urinals, faucets with flow restrictors, vacuum toilets, integrated water closets and intuitive controls. Consumers are realizing that reducing water consumption is a major step they can take towards creating a sustainable environment. At the same time, they want products that are trendy and which coordinate aesthetically with their home interiors. The emphasis on green buildings is also driving development of eco-friendly systems, whose high performance and sustainabilityare their best selling points.
She adds, "Indian consumers have displayed a high proclivity towards adopting high-tech, eco-friendly and sustainable fixtures in their bathrooms. More and more consumers have begun to appreciate the value of water and energy-saving products. They are keen to spend on luxury, but not at the cost of energy. We have observed a huge market for sensor technology in both residential and commercial spaces. Touchless faucets ensure optimal hygiene and maximum ease while showering. They supply water only when needed and also enable pre-setting of optimal water temperature. They usually feature a flow-limiting mousseur (piece of metal added to valves to reduce water consumption) while giving a satisfying and voluminous flow."
Based on research and utilizing modern technology, Hindware introduced Nano - a product which highlights the power of technology to meet sustainability needs of today, besides offering functionality and comfort. According to the company, this one piece 'green' WC saves up to 1,24,100 litres of water per year because it flushes in 1.5 litres only. Plus, its foot pedal flush enhances the hygiene quotient. The product has received the CII GBC 'Most Innovative Water Saving Products' award at the 7th edition of the prestigious 'CII GBC National Award for Excellence in Water Management 2010' and Elle Deco International Design Awards India 2010.
Duravit had reduced the amount of water consumed by its toilets to six litres as opposed to the nine or more litres that were standard at the time. This was in the 1980s. Today, Duravit toilets use just six, four and a half or even less water. At the international level, Duravit toilets flush with a low flushing volume and carry the 'EPA WaterSense High Efficiency Flushing' label. The Dual-Flush technology has further enabled a household of four to save another 17,000 litres of water per year. The economy button is used to flush away liquid waste with just half the water volume; the large button for full water volume, while the Stop+Go button interrupts the flush.
Hansgrohe India's EcoSmart and CoolStart are the company's eco-friendly offerings that help save water and energy automatically. EcoSmart products maintain a constant minimum water flow rate at varying pressure in the line. In standard mixers, the heater starts up immediately when the mixer lever is lifted, but in CoolStart products, the piping system does not fill up unnecessarily with hot water, rather, hot water is added when the lever is moved to the left. In products that incorporate the company's AirPower technology, air is sucked via the showerhead which mixes with the incoming water in balanced ratio of 3:1 such that the air enriched water droplets become plumper and softer.
Jaquar's evolutionary luxury brand Artize - Showertronics iV6 is an experiential and intuitive electronic thermostatic mixing system that has a simple waterproof touchpad interface; it provides a better, more precise, and a more reliable job of giving water at the desired temperature. Features include an automatic start-up that lets the system automatically set itself up after installation. A 'warm up' mode preheats the shower for the user by flushing out cold water until the desired, preset temperature is reached. The water temperature is kept constant and its six intelligent valves, sensors and software keep the water flow steady at the rate one chooses during showering. This ensures that there is no risk of scalding from sudden temperature increase and no surprising shocks if the temperature drops.
In the 'Pause' mode during soaping or shampooing, the system automatically finds the exact temperature and flow rate of the shower when restarted within three minutes. The user can store preferred settings in its memory, including the water outlet, the flow rate, and the temperature. The Automatic Internal Cleanup flushes water for 10-15 seconds from all outlets to remove lime and impurities from the outlets and pipes. Its Thermal Disinfection feature, (recommended to be done annually) flushes hot water through all outlets for 5 minutes – at the maximum temperature available in the water heater for maintaining hygiene.
Sandeep Shukla, Head - Marketing Communications, Jaquar Group, explains, "Unlike conventional thermostats, Artize Showertronic iV6 is capable of auto-calibration, stabilizing the water against any external change in pressure, water flow or temperature, even if the pressure differential of cold and hot water goes up to 5 bars. The system is also built to be safe from the high voltage peaks often encountered in India. And in case of power failure, it offers uninterrupted showering with its battery back-up. This smart system also detects shower malfunctions and displays alarms on the interface display when the system spots problems that persist for over 5 seconds."
Builders and developers select sanitaryware based on the size and brand image of their building project(s), the costs involved, and services offered by the sanitaryware supplier. Architects and interior designers base their buying decision on the design features such as the shape, colour, texture and finishes of the bath fittings and sanitaryware, while the plumbing consultant would consider the cost and quality of the products.
Affirms Manish Bhatia at HSIL, "Plumbing systems do not have a major impact on technologically advanced products. The type of plumbing only defines the kind of product one can install, for example, floor mount or wall mount toilets, exposed or recessed bath shower valves. Consumers are generally advised by plumbing consultants ahead of a new construction/remodeling project, so these concerns are taken care of from the very beginning. While electricity, and to a lesser extent water supply, are still erratic in places, there are solutions such as UPS and pressure pumps that can overcome these challenges. Advanced products being developed for the Indian market to a large extent are being tested and modified to overcome these issues too. So overall, we are seeing much better response to these products now."