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    Designing safer washrooms in a post-Covid era

    Many organisations are now considering how to reopen their facilities and enable employees to return to work safely. The washroom is one of the areas of the building where hygiene is of most importance, and the global pandemic has led to a growing interest in ensuring that safety and hygiene are built into washroom design from the start.

    Why washroom design is so important

    COVID-19 has affected how we use all aspects of the buildings in which we live and work. It’s clear that some aspects of building use are going to have to change significantly in order to enable us to adapt to living in a post-Covid world. Particular attention needs to be paid to common areas of buildings, none more so that the washrooms. Operating clean and hygienic washrooms in the common areas of buildings will be absolutely paramount when it comes to controlling the spread of the virus as much as possible.

    We’re learning more about Covid-19 and how it spreads all the time and it’s clear that the key elements of a strategy to limit transmission will be: –

    • Ensuring surfaces are clean and virus-free
    • Enabling people to maintain a physical distance from each other
    • Encouraging good personal hygiene (in particular regular and thorough handwashing)
    • Limiting opportunities for the virus to spread in droplets or aerosols through the air

    All four of these need to be considered when it comes to designing communal washrooms for the post-Covid era. Conventional washroom design, as the World Health Organisation has acknowledged, has some significant shortcomings when it comes to hygiene and safety in a post-Covid world.  The WHO has distributed advice instructing washroom users to use paper towels to turn off taps after washing their hands. Clearly, this approach is suboptimal and future washrooms will need to be touch-free by design rather than requiring users to come up with such ‘work arounds’ in order to feel safe.

    Peter Collignon, a professor of infectious diseases and microbiology at the Australian National University, says the surfaces of taps and doors are a particular problem in public bathrooms, particularly in relation to viruses shown to be present in faecal matter.

    “The major way coronavirus is transmitted is via respiratory droplets, so you can catch it off surfaces that your hands touch … There are other ways, it can even carry in faeces too. About 60% of patients show that. We need to have public bathrooms open up as lockdowns ease, but the more non-touch we have the better.”

    Prior to the pandemic, infection control was not a priority in building design. However, the steps that building designers and facilities managers take now to make their facilities safer as regards COVID-19 will also make them safer just in general, as Peter Collington says:

    “It’s time for a rethink on lots of things, and bathrooms are one of them. Covid-19 and rates of other respiratory viruses are all dropping as a result of our hand hygiene and distancing measures so far. For the next year we’re going to have to focus on Covid, but these measures could significantly reduce a lot of infections if we continue seriously with hand hygiene. Infection control and protections should be as vital to bathroom design as fire safety.”

    Employers and landlords also need to remember that health and safety legislation means that they have a legal obligation to ensure the safety of their staff and customers. This means that poor washroom facilities are not only dangerous but may well be illegal also.

    With that in mind we’ve produced this guide to safer washroom design. In it we explain all the things you should consider when working to ensure that your washrooms are as safe as they can be. There’s advice for people who are considering refitting their washrooms completely, as well as tips that are relevant to those who need to work with their existing set up.

    We discuss various ways in which communal washrooms can be made safer and more hygienic. Whilst there’s clearly a cost associated with change on this scale, many of the solutions we suggest are not only more hygienic but also much more efficient so organisations can reduce water use and cut their water bills at the same time as ensuring that their washrooms are safe and hygienic.

    Download your free copy of Water Management for Safety and Cost Reduction.

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    Lord Rupert Redesdale

    Lord Redesdale was the Energy Spokesman for the Liberal Democrats for the House of Lords 2000-2008 during which time he introduced many members’ bills in the area of energy and conservation.

    Lord Redesdale is the CEO of the Energy Managers Association (EMA). The EMA aims to promote the development of energy management and the career structure of Energy Managers in the British economy.

    In 2016, Lord Redesdale co-founded The Water Retail Company (TWRC) with Professor Jacob Tompkins. TWRC is a licensed retailer with a focus on water efficiency and reduction strategy for its customers.

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    Professor Jacob Tomkins

    Jacob is the the co-founder and CTO of The Water Retail Company. Jacob trained as a civil engineer with degrees from UCL and Imperial. He worked as an academic, was water lead for the National Farmers’ Union and freshwater advisor at Water UK. He set up and ran Waterwise the water efficiency NGO for over 10 years. He has developed EU water legislation and recently chaired a UK Govt task force on resilience in the water sector.

    He is currently writing two books for Wiley on water efficiency and water and behaviour. He is a visiting Prof at Exeter University and has an OBE for services to water efficiency.

     

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    Harvey Djangogly

    Harvey brings over ten years of experience designing, leading, and evaluating initiatives that engage individuals, households, and employees in sustainable living, and that motivate pro-environmental change. Harvey works with and advises public, private and civic sector organisations in the UK and U.S. and abroad, focusing in particular on his passion –sustainable water use and efficiency.

    Harvey believes in the dual approach of “behaviour change” harnessed with innovative technology to achieve the goals of meeting water and carbon footprint reduction targets. The FlowlessTM by WINT solution, epitomises Harvey’s philosophy by allowing customers to monitor their water use in real time, empowering them to save water by introducing efficiencies and most importantly preventing and detecting escape of water and leaks thereby providing water security to the client’s facility/workplace

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    Marcel Napflin

    Marcel Näpflin is a long-standing member of the management team of URIMAT Schweiz AG, a leading manufacturer of environmentally friendly products in the sanitary industry. As Director for Marketing & Sales and Member of the Executive Board, Marcel has been responsible for the international marketing and sales strategy and the worldwide expansion of URIMAT. Under his leadership URIMAT developed numerous worldwide patented product innovations which save water, improve hygiene and reduce carbon footprint in restrooms.

    In his role as Business Development Manager Marcel was responsible for the development and launch of URIMAT-CONNECT, a cloud-based digital advertising system built into multi-media waterless urinals which dynamically deliver real time advertising messages via the internet. Marcel is a graduate business economist and has commercial diploma in banking. After he started his professional career in banking he worked in various management positions in the Sporting Goods Industry. 

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    Marcus Rose

    Marcus Rose is Managing Director at Ecoprod and URIMAT UK. He is a fully qualified mechanical engineer by training & background, with many years’ experience in the construction industry especially related to mechanical, sanitary and washroom applications.

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    Robert Summer

    For the last 8 years Robert Summer – Head of International Sales and Marketing – has developed structured distribution network worldwide for CONTI+ brand. The products offer great benefit for washrooms and shower rooms for public, semi-public and health sector. Today, sustainability, hygiene and smartness are key to CONTI+ solutions. Robert lives the brand and its USPs and loves to support and motivate his team on a daily basis.

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    David Houslander

    David Houslander is Business Development Manager at Liquidline, the UK’s leading coffee, water and juice hydration provider for offices, car showrooms, gyms and more. He believes that business today is not just about being a profitable silo in itself, but also about how we contribute to society – and this is one of his passions, to work with industry, find new solutions that support productivity and employee happiness and welfare within the workplace. Business is a tough environment today and David believes in working together to bring better support and meaningful solutions to Liquidline’s customers.

    Liquidline today believes fundamentally that coffee and hydration play a really important role today within all workplaces, also in schools, further education and other organisations. It does not embark on selling a metal box, but through meaningful dialogue it understands its customer ‘needs’ and then offer up appropriate solutions to meet those identified needs and this naturally involves specialist and innovative equipment. This approach is in tandem with today’s high profile requirement for services to compliment the green credentials such as its ECO roast bean that assists business today aspire at great effort to attain green credentials, be it control of plastics, recycling, water usage and carbon footprint count.

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    Martin Roche

    Martin Roche is Managing Director of Orel e3, a subsidiary of the global Orel Corporation.  In the UK, Orel is a multi award winning provider of energy saving solutions with more than £9 million and substantial carbon savings to date for our customers.

    Martin has developed two brand offerings for the UK: Lights4Sport and Go2Green.  Lights4Sport provides class leading LED indoor and external sports lighting solutions from grass roots up to Football league standards with modern controls.  Go2Green integrates heat pumps, solar PV, battery storage, insulation, infrared heating, LED lighting and Ecoprod water saving products and technologies to provide turnkey solutions to Save Cash & Carbon.            

     

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    The management of a football stadium is by its very nature complex and requires a wide range of skills; with the complexities of league and cup games, working alongside key departments like the 1st team, keeping within budget and meeting the needs of key stakeholders.

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    Jonathan has an academic grounding in sustainable business practices having completed a Masters in Sustainability: Business, Environment & Corporate Responsibility. Since graduating, Jonathan has lead a project for the UN Environment Program in the Philippines as well as driving sustainability initiatives in a range of SMEs and larger organisations.

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