Whilst consumer expectations around luxury bathrooms have changed, so has their environmental awareness
Consumer awareness of environmental issues has evolved, leaving hotel owners with a challenge. How can they offer an unrivalled bathroom experience, whilst reassuring guests that they are sensitive to environmental issues? This is a challenging position, complicated further by the gradually increasing pressure of fulfilling certain industry and company-wide obligations to cut water consumption per guest in line with wider environmental initiatives.
Taps, toilets and showers alone contribute about 30%-40% of a typical hotel’s water usage , so it is a key area where hoteliers want to reduce consumption both to save money and improve sustainability. Green Hotelier has previously identified the following steps to ensure hotels are managing their water use:
- Check that basin and bath/shower taps do not leak – according to Waterwise, a leaking tap wastes at least 5,500 litres of water annually – and replace faulty fittings or washers as required.
- When refurbishing guest bathrooms, fit water-efficient low-flow showerheads and aerator taps as these can reduce costs as well as water consumption. InterContinental Hotels Group’s Holiday Inn in Flinders, Australia, recouped its AUD $22,000 (USD $19,500) investment in low-flow technology after 18 months and cut water usage by 50%.
- Opportunities for grey-water harvesting should also be explored, from reusing sink, shower and bath water in kitchen waste disposal units and other back-of-house facilities, to new guest toilet units that combine a toilet and sink (e.g. from Roca), which include a self-contained grey water recycling component directly linking the used sink water with the water in the toilet flush.
A closer look at water-saving showers
With the eyes of key organisations, such as the Environment Agency, now firmly fixed on hotels and their ecological credentials, it has never been more important for hotels to assess their eco-efficiencies in water consumption. The Environment Agency’s ‘Hotels Water Efficiency Project’ which ran for three years from 2000 to 2003, pinpointed a number of areas of weakness in sample hotels water consumption, with showers being identified as a key appliance that needed to be addressed in order to reduce water use per guest. Especially since the provision of poor showers in hotel rooms will encourage guests to take a bath.
In order to tackle the dilemma of improving bathing experiences whilst saving on water, many bathroom suppliers are introducing new products to the hotel market such as water-saving flow restrictors, aerated shower heads, water trackers and pre-timers. With the government planning for most homes to have a water meter installed by 2020, it may well be only a matter of time before hotels are required to follow suit and closely monitor the water use of each guest.
Low-flow showerheads, such as those that combine air so the pressure feels strong, can result in a cut of 95 litres (25 US gallons) of water in a 10-minute shower. In the US, low-flow showerheads cost between $15-$30, are easy to install, and return their investment in a few months.
One country that has championed the use of water saving showers is Australia. With rising problems from water shortage, there were many different water sustainability programmes put in place to tackle this problem nationally. To contribute to these programmes, technologies such as Methven’s Satinjet® were designed to help not only consumers, but also businesses, including hotels, decrease the amount of water flow in showers whilst not compromising on the all-important showering experience.
New Zealand-based luxury shower brand Methven developed Satinjet to deliver a spa-like showering experience with the ability to save water and energy. Unlike conventional and aerated shower sprays, the Methven Satinjet shower uses twin jets of water that collide and turn into thousands of tiny droplets to provide a quality shower that cleanses the body but also feels soft to the face. Satinjet products are now found in exclusive hotels across the globe, such as the Palazzo Versace on Australia’s Gold Coast at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Hong Kong. One such hotel is the Langham Hotel in Melbourne, Australia, part of the Leading Hotels of the World group, where installing the Satinjet showers has resulted in water saving reductions of 4,298m3 PA.