Conservation & Sustainability in Bathroom Design

by Biglin Architectural Group on January 31, 2012

Building a Sustainable Bathroom | Guest Post by Douglas Elliman Real EstateIntroduction by Biglin Architectural Group

As architects, we consider sustainability and conservation of resources when designing and building new homes from the ground up and when making upgrades to existing structures. From maximizing the availability of natural light to taking advantage of the natural slope of a building site for heat retention and availability of solar energy; attention to these details can have a large impact on the world around us. Particularly here, along the protected coastal regions of Southern California, more stringent building guidelines are based around the ideas of conservation of land and resources. Similar code is being adopted throughout the nation to protect our land now and for generations to come. As discussed in the guest article below, the largest volume of water usage in an average home comes from the bathroom. Making even small adjustments to the appliances and fixtures used in the bathroom and elsewhere in the home can make a big difference.

Thank you to Erik Braunitzer and Douglas Elliman Real Estate for submitting this article for our readers.

Creating a More Sustainable Bathroom

Contributing Author: Erik Braunitzer
Article courtesy of Douglas Elliman Real Estate, agents for New York City Apartments.

As people become increasingly aware of the perils of climate change, more homeowners are casting a serious eye toward sustainability. Adding environmentally friendly upgrades to your home makes sense not only for the planet and future generations but also for your pocketbook.

Most people know that the kitchen, with its many large appliances, is the biggest drain on a family’s electrical budget. The bathroom is where the biggest use of a household’s water comes from. Many may not realize that adding environmentally friendly features to the bathroom can help save money while conserving precious natural resources.

Water Conservation
Water conservation is a trending topic because of growing populations placing tougher demands on this already limited resource. In statistics released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a family of four can save around 16,000 gallons of water per year simply by installing a low-flow toilet. While high efficiency toilets were plagued with problems in the past, modern innovations have made them much more effectual. Simple fixes like water saving shower heads and infrared or “touch-to-activate” faucets can also dramatically reduce residential water waste.

Capture and Reuse
Cisterns and capture systems can be mounted on rooftops to harvest and reuse rainwater. Unfiltered water can be used in toilets or the water can be minimally filtered for use in showers, baths and laundry rooms. Gray water systems recycle waste water from showers, bathtubs and washing machines and repurpose it to irrigate lawns or gardens.

Lighting and Ventilation
Replacing outdated incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent or LED lamps can cut your energy costs while improving the quality of light in your bathroom. If you don’t already have a window, consider adding one or a skylight to improve both lighting and ventilation. Installing energy efficient exhaust fans in shower stalls or small bathrooms can improve air quality, reduce the growth of mold and mildew and prolong the life of paint and other surfaces. Even something as simple as installing a towel rack to dry used towels instead of immediately laundering them can have a positive impact on your carbon footprint.

When planning major renovations, consider these eco-friendly ways of updating your bathroom:

-Use recycled glass or ceramic tile to resurface countertops, shower stalls or floors.
-Reduce construction waste by refinishing cast iron or porcelain bathtubs.
-Use low-VOC paints and finishes on walls and cabinets.
-Remove and recycle composite vanities in favor of pedestal sinks and baskets or cupboards made from sustainable products like bamboo.


With these easy to follow tips, you can help keep our Earth healthy for generations to come.

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