By John Fitzgerald and Pat Tanzillo
When it comes to faucets in commercial or institutional buildings, there are considerations specifiers should keep in mind for the right outcome—in other words, saving water without sacrificing performance. Besides every project being different, each type of facility has its own unique requirements. There are the water conditions, local codes, performance characteristics of the faucets, and a wide range of other variables that range from owner or contractor preference to material availability.
Selecting a faucet
One of the prime motivators in the faucet specification stems from meeting building design and function expectations while providing a safe, clean, and comfortable environment. Some of the considerations for the specifier include the following areas.
Conservation and sustainability
Specifiers and project teams should take into account how easy it is to select the faucets when it comes to limiting the flow rate and operating time to help conserve water. Does the manufacturer offer a range of choices, or are selections limited to a few models?
Flexibility and expandability
In a commercial or institutional facility, how difficult is a changeout? Components like handles, spouts, and cartridges should be closely examined to determine how easy it is to make such routine changes. While maintenance is not typically a specification issue, these considerations are increasingly falling into the specifer’s lap because they affect the building’s overall performance. One of the best ways for the specifer to think about this notion is to have a discussion with the maintenance team in the building or a similar project they are working on.
Cleanliness and sanitation
Today, it is difficult to go 24 hours without hearing the importance of hand-washing in controlling the spread of diseases. From the specifier’s point of view, how do the faucets address sanitation and safety? Are there hands-free options? Or, as in the case of metering faucets, do they limit the ‘touch points’ between the user and the faucet? By automatically controlling water flow, the faucet will reduce contact with hands/fingers allowing a more hygienic hand-washing area.
Are the faucets just meeting or exceeding the requirements of the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) B125.1, Plumbing Supply Fittings, or Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)? For example, ADA states hand-operated metering faucets must remain open for a minimum of 10 seconds, and CSA does not have a minimum time requirement. Many people consider ADA simply a ‘chip’ on the table that must be played in order to be specified. However, a comparison of faucet models will always produce differentiation for the specifer when examining the performance characteristics.
Perhaps one of the most subjective considerations is the faucet’s appearance. While more the realm of the designer than the specifer, the latter’s role is increasingly important because looks without performance will simply result in failure. Reliable operation is relative, of course, and it is up to the specification writer to work closely with the designer in finding suitable alternatives to meet the design vision.
These are just some of the considerations that will affect the specifer’s decision on the faucet type, but for simplicity, the metering faucet has been one of the proven and often overlooked that meet all these considerations. As a result, they belong at the top of the specifier’s short list.