|Written by Lucy Burningham|
|Monday, June 25, 2012|
It’s no secret: Bathrooms quickly become dated. Pink tile might be the most obvious sign of age, but inefficient showerheads, singing toilets and rusted lighting fixtures are just as telling.
When remodeling your bathroom, there are many ways to go green. For starters, choose energy- and water-efficient fixtures and toilets, as well as responsibly sourced materials. But also think about the future life of your revamped bathroom, one of the most important elements of green design.
“A green project is one that is thoughtfully planned and built, and one that lasts,” explains Maxwell Rush, owner of Green Light Construction & Painting in Portland.
Even quick, low-budget fixes should be carefully considered to help create a functional and aesthetically pleasing bathroom for years to come. Aim for enduring style by avoiding trendy design concepts like, say, pink tile. And always choose products and materials that are durable. Because ultimately, the less waste you create by remodeling again and again, the more eco-friendly your remodel.
Another important green philosophy: Maintain the footprint of small bathrooms, says Jeff Stern, principal of In Situ Architecture in Portland. “Stay with the existing footprint, and don’t move fixtures,” he says, which creates both short- and long-term energy and cost savings. “Keep it simple.”
Conserving water should be a top priority in the bathroom. Water-saving fixtures have come a long way, which makes conserving water one of the easiest and cheapest ways to green a bathroom. Look for the EPA’s WaterSense label on faucets, showers and toilets, which ensures water efficiency verified through independent testing.
Improved showerhead designs help maintain water pressure, so you can still have the same powerful spray to which you’re accustomed. Some handheld and fixed showerheads even have adjustable settings, so you can switch between gallon-per-minute settings (GPM). Low flow is considered 1.5 to 2.5 GPM, as opposed to the 6 GPM showerheads of the past. In sink fixtures, low-flow faucets release 0.5 to 1 GPM.
Today’s water-saving toilets are categorized by water per flush. The most efficient use about 1.3 gallons per flush. Dual-flush toilets treat solid and liquid wastes with different water amounts, which can add up to more sizable water savings but are more expensive.