WaterSense at Work: Best Management Practices for Commercial and Institutional Facilities
Faucets can be found in restrooms, kitchens, break rooms, and service areas in all
commercial and institutional buildings. Lavatory (i.e., restroom) faucets are designed
for either private or public use. Private-use faucets are generally found in homes, ho-
tel guest rooms, dorms, barracks, and hospital rooms. Public-use lavatory faucets are
those intended for unrestricted use by more than one individual (i.e., employees, visi-
tors, other building occupants) in facilities, such as public restrooms in offices, malls,
schools, restaurants, or other commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings.
When it comes to improving faucet water efficiency in these lavatories, there are two
different ways to apply technology: optimizing faucets and using faucet accessories.
A faucet accessory is defined as a component that can be added, removed, or re-
placed easily and, when removed, does
not prevent the faucet from functioning
Faucet accessories include
flow restrictors, flow regulators, aera-
tors, and laminar flow devices. While
faucet accessories can be incorporated
into new faucet design to control the
flow rate, most often, accessories are
external components that screw onto
an existing faucet’s end spout.
In addition to typical, hand-operated
components, lavatory faucets can also
be equipped with automatic sensors
to trigger the on/off mechanism when
users place their hands under and
remove them from the fixture. Depend-
ing on use patterns before installation,
appropriately programmed automatic sensors may or may not provide additional
In most cases, automatic sensors open the faucet valve completely
when in use, whereas users of manually controlled faucets typically do not turn the
tap fully on. Some jurisdictions might mandate the use of automatic sensors by code
in certain applications. Automatic sensors can provide health and sanitation benefits
in public-use facilities, since they are a hands-free option. However, recent research
suggests that automatic sensor faucets might be more likely to be contaminated
compared to old-style fixtures with separate handles for hot and cold
water. This might be because the electronic faucet technology has more surfaces for
the bacteria to become trapped and grow, or it might be because of the low flow rate
of the faucets tested.
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Condi-
tioning Engineers, Inc. (ASHRAE) is currently developing a standard to protect users.
American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Canadian Standards Association (CSA). June 2011. ASME A112.18.1/CSA B125.1
Plumbing Supply Fittings
Gauley, Bill and Koeller, John. March 2010.
Sensor-Operated Plumbing Fixtures: Do They Save Water?
Johns Hopkins Medicine. March 31, 2011. “Latest Hands-Free Electronic Water Faucets Found to Be Hindrance, Not Help, in Hospital Infection Control.”
Faucet accessory (aerator)