February 18, 2019 by Jillian Morgan
It has to start somewhere.
Pressure to meet evolving regulations and sustainability-focused targets on industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) projects has paved the way for innovative products that address the unique needs of hotels, healthcare facilities, schools and restaurants.
ICI manufacturers take on a leadership role in the plumbing sector, acting in many ways as a research and development centre for the industry.
Those advancements then trickle down to the residential market, said Tamara Myers, communications chair of the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) mid-Atlantic chapter and founding president of Philadelphia-based Myers Constructs.
“The commercial plumbing fixture industry has had to step up to the plate to create technologies to meet WaterSense requirements, low volume use, and at the same time make a nice looking product,” she added.
Faucets and fixtures in ICI buildings will no longer focus solely on function, instead combining the latest trends in style with tailored technology and attention to energy efficiency.
STYLE AND FUNCTION
Functional faucets and fixtures that meet the needs of ICI buildings remain a priority, though the move to incorporate aesthetically
pleasing designs represents “an important change in direction,” according to Maria Bosco, director of product marketing for Lixil Canada Inc.
“Designers of commercial spaces are always asking for products that not only serve a specific purpose, they need to flow with the overall design concept of the space,” she added.
In the restaurant industry, for example, multiple spray kitchen faucets aim to simplify everyday tasks such as food prep and clean up. Trough sinks have become increasingly popular, too, particularly in hotel restaurants, Myers said.
“[Trough sinks] can be a challenge but I think they’re coming up with various designs that both function well, if you have multiple use, and express a high-level of design and finish,” she added.
Much like luxury residential builds, popular finishes in the ICI market include brass, rose gold and black, Myers said–though it can be a mixed bag.
“We see still a certain amount of just basic chrome in the commercial market,” she added “Chrome is tried and true in terms of finishes.”
There are a select few style trends the market will be leaving behind in 2018–namely oil rubbed bronze fixtures, particularly in Canada, Bosco said.
Sinks with zero radius corners will also be benched, since the product can be difficult to clean, along with four-inch wideset and centreset faucets at more than $150. “People that spend more than $150 will select a one hand mixer or an eight-inch wideset faucet,” Bosco said.
Dual flush toilets that perform at full flush 6.0 Lpf/conserving flush 4.1 Lpf will be “on the decline” thanks to new standards for toilets now set at 4.8 Lpf, she added. Contractors should also expect to see fewer faucets with a mechanical lift rod on the back of the faucet for the drain.
EFFICIENCY AND TECHNOLOGY
ICI plumbing manufacturers have taken energy-efficiency regulations in stride. Since most major commercial projects have a requirement to meet sustainable targets, the sector has assumed a natural leadership role, Myers said.
The latest advancements in faucet and fixture technology are often focused on reducing the environmental footprint of non-residential buildings.
“Faucets and toilet technology is being developed to provide property managers with alerts on the improper functioning of the fixture and usage,” Bosco said. Sense and Sense Guard smart water sensors by Grohe, a Lixil brand, are just one example.
Hands-free sensor technology continues to dominate, particularly in ICI environments where the reduction of harmful bacteria is a top priority, such as a healthcare facility.
In the commercial market, electronic faucets will become increasingly common, Myers said.
“We are developing some new commercial faucets that will be launched July 2019–SmartTherm,” Bosco said. “The electronic components will be integrated in the spout to facilitate maintenance, easier temperature adjustment… and the handle will be removable to eliminate tampering.” <>