Sustainable fixtures aid LEED certification, cost savings

FORT WORTH, TX—Hotel owners and guests alike can agree that safety is always a top priority when staying at a hotel: keeping you and your personal information and belongings out of harm’s way. Safety, however, extends far beyond a hotel’s security features.

Health also plays into the safety component of a guest’s stay, which is where the LEED (The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System comes into play. The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) developed the system, which takes into consideration environmental and human health issues in determining which hotels and other buildings are environmentally friendly.

A building is awarded LEED certification by earning points in six categories: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality and innovation in design. The total number of points earned then categorizes the building as Silver, Gold or Platinum, explained Matt Voorhees director of wholesale for Niagara Conservation, a manufacturer of water and energy conservation products.

According to the USGBC, LEED-certified buildings lower operating costs and increase asset value; reduce waste sent to landfills; conserve energy and water; are healthier and safer for occupants; qualify for tax rebates, zoning allowances and other incentives in hundreds of cities; and demonstrate an owner’s commitment to environmental stewardship and social responsibility, which can help build partnerships.

Voorhees said that this holds appeal for hotels because these environmental values can influence consumers’ and business partners’ decision to stay or work with a brand.

“The world is running out of good water and we’re wasting what we have. Some of the worst offenders are items we use every day—toilets, showerheads. As water conservation and overall sustainability continues to climb in importance, consumers, guests and companies will consider this aspect in their decision-making,” Voorhees said. “Niagara Conservation products are easy to use. Guests will appreciate the opportunity to practice better waste management through use of Niagara products, using water to work better and not waste anything.”

Niagara Conservation supplies the hospitality sector with toilets, showerheads, aerators and water-saving kits, which all work to conserve water and help hotels meet LEED Certification.

Voorhees explained that some hotels need a commercial toilet with a flushometer because of building structure and size, but Niagara toilets require a smaller footprint and flush at a low rate. “Our Nano toilet requires a smaller footprint and offers the comfort of an elongated bowl. It’s our most efficient toilet yet; it flushes at a low rate—0.5 for a half-flush and 0.8 for a full-flush,” Voorhees explained. “Our Phantom toilet has the same tank design as the Nano, and features our stealth technology with both single- and dual-flush options. So, you have an interchangeable tank, which can turn our single-flush Phantom into one of the most efficient, dual-flush conservation machines on the market. The Phantom’s modern silhouette is very design-focused, while our Nano is more functional and more about efficiency over high-end design; its compact sleekness makes it a great addition to smaller bathrooms.”

Niagara showerheads also use less water while remaining accessible for guests. “Our HealthGuard showerhead saves up to 40% more water than standard showerheads and has an antimicrobial coating that prevents bacterial growth and a removable faceplate that makes it super easy to clean. It’s also an attractive fixture, offering five spray settings, and fits into most spaces, so it looks good and serves a purpose,” he said. “Our HotStart showerhead shuts off once it hits a certain temperature so when you’re ready to get into the shower, you can hit the ‘resume’ feature; it provides an easy solution to wasted water. When the shower is over and the water is turned off, the showerhead resets for its next use.”

Similarly, the aerators are small attachments to faucets that limit water flow for both kitchens and bathrooms. Reducing [hot] water usage can then help save heat energy.

With Niagara’s help, hotels have already seen improvements. Voorhees said that savings show in as little as 12 months with a water-management plan. “For example, a Holiday Inn Express in Arizona saved $8,000 and reduced water usage by 55% by installing Niagara toilets. A Wyndham property in Philadelphia saved nearly two million gallons by installing Niagara fixtures,” he said. “As a property owner or manager, you’re always trying to lower expenses. Our mission is to innovate and conserve with everyday ingenuity.”

In addition to these types of products, there are other ways that hotels can save water. Voorhees recommends implementing a comprehensive water-management plan for laundry services, swimming pools, grounds maintenance, kitchens and housekeeping, etc., implementing guest and employee water conservation incentive programs and developing marketing and communications materials.

“This is something we pride ourselves on here at Niagara, being a conservation and innovation-minded company that’s not interested in just building something that’s beautiful. We start with functionality and build up from there,” Voorhees said.

Voorhees said that awareness surrounding sustainability is increasing, the hospitality industry included, especially as property managers are looking for ways to reduce operating expenses. 

“We see a lot of demand building up around our kind of products,” he said. “Water resources continue to diminish. As the issue grows, gaining national and global awareness, consumers are expecting companies, especially large, global brands, to act responsibly. Sustainability falls in line with corporate responsibility.” HB