Water Conservation

Sewage Treatment
The green building movement in India is riding on a long lasting impetus- Water Conservation. And bathrooms are becoming the bastions of this imperative, reports S.D.Khan

The Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility influences us to believe that once we start the consumption of a product, while keeping the other ones constant, the marginal satisfaction that we get from the consumption of each additional unit is less. Ironically, when it comes to water, satisfaction increases with every litre.

So, when the 17th Century English sage Thomas Fuller famously wisecracked, "We never know the worth of water till the well is dry," little did he know that this philosophical disposition of his would be looked at rather differently four centuries later! For sure, depleting water reserves were not his actual worries. He was apparently trying to impress upon us that the sooner we realize the worth of life the better it is for us. Today, when we sample this gem from Fuller on its face value, we concur that water has emerged as the paramount exponent of human rationale, defining our approach towards life. Every drop saved reflects our love for the environment. And, lo and behold, Indians too are replacing their wanton water wastage with prudence! No wonder, this sentiment reached a crescendo on the World Water Day!

Bathroom Solution
With Green buildings, the modern tokens of love for Mother Nature, mushrooming in every nook and corner of the country, people are taking the onus of saving water upon themselves with zest and fervour. And many techniques such as rainwater harvesting, drip irrigation, sewage treatment, cooling towers, recycling, and water efficient bathroom solutions and sanitaryware are in vogue. Needless to say, everyone wants to contribute to the welfare of the environment, and water, being nature's lifeline, tops the priority list.

The Indian Green Building Council (IGBC) reaffirms this fact. According to the apex body, a green building is one which uses less water, optimizes energy efficiency, conserves natural resources, generates less waste and provides healthier space for occupants as compared with a conventional building. Keeping the other aspects aside, a green building aims at optimizing water consumption and quality. And according to the rule book, water should be collected, used, recycled, and reused on site.

Ms. Huma Rawat, Chief Architect of Delhi-based Altitude Dzine Architects explains, "Water conservation in a green building is as important as the other aspects such as energy efficiency and inflow of natural light. Today, there are various products and technologies available in the market which facilitate water conservation at every level in a building be it bathrooms, kitchens, rooftops or parking lots. In my opinion, water conservation should be achieved through segregation of dirty water and unhygienic water. Dirty water from flushes, cisterns and kitchen sinks can be recycled and reused for watering the plants and washing cars."

Championing the Cause

Eco-Flush-water-saver-sanitaryware

It's worth reiteration that Indians are increasingly becoming water conscious and this zeal for conservation is aptly reflected in the bathroom solutions they are opting for. After all, a bathroom is the hub of reckless wastage where water is considered a mere redundancy! So, is it not sane to plug the loopholes at the right place first? Well, this is what the industry's crème de la crème have to say.

Sushil Matey
According to Mr. Sushil Matey, Chief Operating Officer, H&R Johnson (India), water saving sanitaryware is an emerging segment as more and more consumers are becoming increasingly sensitive to environment and leading a healthy & socially conscious lifestyle. "The demand for these products has been rising and this segment is expected to grow substantially over the next few years." H&R Johnson needs no introduction in the tiles, sanitaryware, and bathroom solutions market across the world. And the global major has time and again proven its mettle in India too through a plethora of offerings.

Mr. Matey informs, "Today our bathrooms have become increasingly as important as a living area of the house. Home owners are spending lots of money to make their bathrooms as comfortable as any other room equipped with advance premium bath-fittings and sanitaryware. But what we cannot ignore is the fact that it's a primary source of water consumption and very often of water wastage too. Our R&D efforts are on to create an entire range of Green bathroom products to keep pace with the evolving terrain and increasing consumer preference for eco-friendly products. We see a large demand for water saver bathroom products arising from areas & localities as well as regions where there are water supply restrictions."

Bath Fittings Sanitaryware

Shedding more light on the company's products range, he informs that H&R Johnson is rolling out Johnson Eco Flush water saving sanitaryware. "This is a special range of bathroom products which aim at saving upto 1500 litres of water every month for every family. The water-saving USP of this special range also has a compounding effect on the power consumption of the household. We are currently rolling out this range with 5 innovative sanitaryware products designed for uber modern look. Our Eco Flush sanitaryware is an addition to expand our product portfolio in the super-premium business segment."

Santosh Nema
Well, when it comes to eco-friendly endeavours, one name that strikes the mind instantly is Hindware. For decades, Indians have relished a gamut of assortments such as sanitaryware, faucets, tiles and a vast range of products from this giant. And the legacy is all set to continue. Mr. Santosh Nema, President - HSIL, avers, "Water conservation has definitely become the need of the day and Hindware, the unprecedented market leader in sanitaryware is committed to the cause as much to serve customers. Based on research and utilizing modern technology, 'Hindware' constitutes a whole range of eco-products aimed at saving water or efficient usage of water. Special consideration is given to design, size, capacity, and flushing parameters along with smart use of technology such as sensor operated automatic flushing mechanisms, temperature control and auto-washing mechanism to name a few."

"HSIL", he continues, "commands 40% share of the organized market and is the front runner in the Indian sanitaryware market. And, with India graduating from 'bucket-baths' to showers, designing water-efficient products is gradually becoming a necessity now. Our recent achievement, a first by any brand in the sanitaryware category in acquiring WEP (water efficient product) star rating reiterates this promise. The star rating is given by the International Association of Plumbing & Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) and India Plumbing Association (IPA). The WEP rating will help consumers to make a smart choice, provide them quality assurance and will encourage use of water-efficient products."

Bucket Baths

Notably, Hindware offers an exhaustive range of sensor operated taps, dual flush, waterless urinals for the Indian consumers. "NANO is one of our prominent product offerings which flushes in only 1.5 ltrs of water and is equipped with a foot pedal flushing mechanism for hygiene. The eco-range from Hindware Italian collection constitutes dual flushing W/C's (one piece, wall mounted in different shapes and sizes), urinals and faucets. The modern, compact and elegant design of these products along with its 'save water, save money' concept is gradually catching the attention of the market. Since bathrooms account for maximum water usage inside a home, so it is the best place to start saving water. The products fall under premium range, which is affordable luxury and as for long term benefits, every product has the capability to save 1,09,500 litres of water per year. With the critical water scenario getting worse, this saving is beneficial for both consumer and the environment in the long-term.'

Salil Sadanandan
American behemoth Kohler, which has grown by leaps and bounds in India over the years by setting new benchmarks in the sanitaryware and bathroom solutions market, is also focused on bringing forth products from the global heritage that suits the needs of Indian consumers. Asserts Mr Salil Sadanandan, Managing Director, Kohler Kitchen & Bath India, We have launched some of our most innovative and unique offerings lately that help in saving water. For instance, the recently launched KOHLER® rainheads feature Katalyst® spray technology, a revolutionary air-induction system with enhanced

spray-nozzle configurations. By infusing two litres of air per minute, Katalyst® delivers a powerful, indulgent spray that clings to your body with large, full drops. They offer complete coverage with full, heavy water drops for a powerful, thoroughly drenching shower experience. This helps in saving water while maintaining the true showering experience."

Formilia Wall Hung Toilet
He further adds, "Also, a host of aerators are compatible with all of our lavatory faucets, which help in water saving. Some of our lavatory faucets feature the 'detent' valve, which provides an optimum flow rate. Our latest launch, DTV Prompt features the pause functionality and timed shower countdown, which help in water saving. Our Watersense showerheads and handshowers use 35% less water than older, less efficient models."

Kohler's range of bidet seats use a fraction of water as compared to other options like health faucets or jet sprays. The company offers Bidet Seats in both electronic (C3 seats) and mechanically (Puretide) operated formats. The C3 seats have the energy saver feature which automatically switches the electronic circuits off when the device is not in use. "Some of our other vitrous china products include; Formilia Wall Hung toilet, which can operate at a flush volume of 2.6/4 litres per flush, Bardon and Patio Urinals, which require only 0.5 litres of water per flush and Steward Waterless Urinals. All these products have been launched to provide consumers with unique experiences that combine design artistry and high-end technology. These products are mostly placed in the Premium price range. WaterSense-labeled 7.5 LPM showerheads use upto 20% less water than standard 9.5-LPM showerheads and are in accordance with strict performance guidelines as well. An average family of four can save up to 30,000 litres of water per year without sacrificing an ounce of style or performance," claims Mr. Sadanandan.

LEED, the Icing on the Cake!

Yes. It's good to be green. It instils a sense of pride in you. And if your greenness catches everyone's attention and does the rounds all over, rewards are more than handful! Today, a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating is the quintessence of eco-friendliness. And once your building is conferred upon this prestigious title, you possess a veritable gold mine. What's more, meticulous water management is a catalyst in fetching those coveted LEED points.

Kunal Naithani
Mr. Kunal Naithani, who lends architectural and design services from his Delhi-based firm White Studio Architects, informs, "The LEED specification is a pointwise rating system and there are a set of points reserved for water conservation in that. It also is a must do when it comes to rendering a building green."

Not surprisingly, a prospective LEED rating forms the essence of a sanitaryware & bathroom solutions provider's offerings nowadays. H&R Johnson, for instance, has tied up with the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), the apex body which awards LEED points. Quips Mr. Matey, "Our association with IGBC is part of a larger business strategy towards becoming an environment-conscious business entity. We are taking steps to build in environmental consciousness in its business operations as well as product development initiatives to make environmental management a fundamental part of its overall business strategy."

Mr. Sadanandan, on the other hand, considers this as a USP of Kohler's products and says this with excitement. "Yes, the Steward urinals and Formilia Wall Hung toilets both, fetch LEED points for our hospitality and project clients. Also, a host of our lavatory faucets, showerheads, health faucets fetch LEED points.

Whaite Studio Architects
Mr. Nema too affirms that HSIL's products are Water Efficient Product (WEP) certified. This is a universal rating awarded by the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), a recognized body established in 1936 by the building industry worldwide for supporting sustainability and emerging technology. The evaluations of water efficient products WEP in India are adjudged on the parameters design, engineering, manufacturing, selection, installation and maintenance of water-efficient plumbing products for domestic and commercial applications in India."

According to him, the star rating is intended to help consumers in making a decision while building a home or replacing one, ensure planners and plumbers develop the required competency to conform the codes are applied, making sure that plumbing assemblies, materials and technologies are safe and effective, and cement effectiveness of the installations for long-term benefits.

So, if a builder or developer makes sure that his project is equipped with water saving bathroom solutions, he should rest assured that his deliverables are slated for a marketability fillip. Mr. Naithani states, "Developers are very inclined towards incorporating water conservation in their buildings since water is fast becoming a scarce commodity in urban areas. Water conservation is also fast becoming a mandatory requirement for most buildings, commercial or otherwise by the local building sanctioning authorities all over the country. For a fact it does not increase the overall cost all that significantly as it is believed to be."

Marketing, Not Mere Selling!

The age old aphorism 'Customer is King' has underwent a drastic change over the years. The tweaked version 'After Sales is Key' sounds more realistic. In the modern context, no company can prosper without serving its clients round-the-clock. The Bathroom and Sanitaryware Industry is no different! Manufacturers' concern about their endusers has culminated into strategic and comprehensive marketing plans.

For instance, HSIL's marketing strategy encompasses product innovation, developing last mile connectivity with consumers by spreading experiential retail footprint across brands in urban markets, and building a strong dealer and retail network. "Our Customer Care helpline enables consumers to get the best after sales support through company enrolled plumbers. Investment in training and enhancing spends across ATL & BTL communications," says Mr. Nema.

H&R Johnson, meanwhile, spends approximately 2-3 percent of its revenues towards marketing campaigns, ATL & BTL media communication, and e-Marketing initiatives including social media activations. Remarks Mr. Sadanandan, "The social media campaigns will aim to attract the nuvo audiences through conversations and community building measures. We also aim to tap into customer insights through its social initiatives for CRM as well as new product development." Notably, H&R Johnson is also setting up a pan-India network of Consumer Experiences Zones. These will take the form of Shop-in-Shops and will be branded as Johnson Arena, Johnson Class, and Johnson Xclusiv.

Whereas Kohler offers home service for installation, supervision and breakdown calls to endusers through service network available in all company represented cities across India. "Kohler's assurance of after sale service is within 24 hrs in metro cities. All our marketing and communication initiatives pertaining to our products and services are focussed to deliver an enhanced user experience," summarises Mr. Sadanandan.

Well, there is a lot in reckoning; a Mexican Wave of green buildings, passionate consumers and manufacturers with fire in their bellies. And as long as water continues to shape the edifice, the market will continue to stay galvanised.

MGS Architecture April 2013