Transforming washroomsCistermiser, which is widely known for its device for controlling automatic flushing cisterns, has been thinking more widely about improving the functionality and water use of washrooms.Washrooms are huge users of water, both for flushing toilets and urinals and by taps. Every visit to a motorway service station, airport, theatre etc. provides an opportunity to see a range of techniques to reduce water use — or no concern at all about the cost of water, its disposal and heating it. Reduce consumption One of the biggest users of water in commercial buildings is washrooms, particularly urinals, and Water Regulations require all new installations of automatic cisterns to be controlled to reduce their water consumption. Cistermiser has been involved in reducing the volume of water used by urinals since 1976, even before Water Regulations required such measures, initially with its hydraulically operated systems. This concept controls the filling of an automatic cistern by passing a measured amount of water into it in response to changes in pressure in the pipework when a toilet is flushed or a tap is turned on. Controlling the filling of a cistern in this way prevents it flushing every 20 minutes, 24 hours a day, seven days of the week — saving huge amounts of water. Without such control, an automatic flushing cistern could use 9 litres of water every 20 minutes, 24 hours a day. That amounts to over 236 m3 a year, a figure which is generally accepted to be reduced by 80% by a flush controller — amounting to a saving of 189 m3 a year in both clean water and waste water down the drain. The payback on the installation of such a device is just six months, including installation costs. Hands-free washroom Cistermiser continued to confined itself to automatic flush control until it was taken over by Davidson Holdings in 2004. Research and development since then has led to the company devising new approaches to flush control and other products for the ‘hands-free’ washroom. The philosophy behind all these products, as described by managing director Geoffrey Gestetner, is to save water, promote hygiene and provide universal access. There are three types of product. • The first is sophisticated control of urinal flushing using water direct from the mains.
• The second is a no-touch dual-flush WC valve.
• The third is a hands-free basin spout. All three types of product require electrical power, which can be provided by mains or a battery pack using standard alkaline AA batteries with a life of 160 000 cycles per battery set. Mains power can be provided by individual units or by a centralised unit that can serve up to 10 devices in a large washroom. Direct Flush units for urinals use one valve per urinal and mains water for individual flushing rather than flushing in groups, further reducing water use. Qualification for Enhanced Capital Allowances reduces the payback on investment. Individual infra-red sensors detect a user after 10 seconds and flush the urinal after use, not during. The flow is interrupted if the urinal is used again to avoid any risk of splashing. Hygiene A hygiene flush function ensures that the trap is kept full if a urinal is not used for long periods.