It goes without saying that air plays a big role in our daily lives, both at home and at work. So it’s no surprise that indoor air quality (IAQ) is a major concern for workers across the country. IAQ can significantly affect the health, comfort, and productivity of your workers, so it’s important to make sure that the air is clean and comfortable.
Although it’s rare for poor IAQ to cause serious health problems, it’s not uncommon for employees to perceive the air as dangerous or unhealthy when the quality is low. In this post, we’ll help you to further understand exactly what poor IAQ is and how to improve the quality of the air inside your facility.
What’s Good IAQ?
Since breathing is an automatic action we do without much thought, good IAQ goes relatively unnoticed. However, the moment that dust, pollen, foul odors, or other pollutants enter the air, it’s noticed almost immediately. However, contaminants aren’t the only things that can lower the air’s quality. Air temperature, humidity, and even stillness can attribute to its overall quality.
To achieve good IAQ in your building, you need to focus on the following criteria: ventilation, temperature, humidity, volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions, cleaning, and maintenance.
What Are the Most Common IAQ Complaints?
Since most employers concentrate on providing a safe working environment, it should come as no surprise that the most common complaints concerning IAQ don’t involve pollutants but rather employee comfort. For instance, most complaints have to do with the temperature of the air being too hot or too cold. Following that is complaints about drafts or still air. The third most common complaints have to do with dry or humid air.
Serious health-related complaints, such as eye or throat irritation, dizziness, or nausea, are much rarer and typically hard to blame on the IAQ of the workplace unless the issues are persistent and felt by numerous employees. Sometimes, these symptoms can be brought on by allergies to mold or dust that may be present in the air.
What’s Causing My IAQ Problems?
To identify the cause of poor IAQ, you need to listen to the complaints. Still air can easily be improved by adding more ventilation. However, mold or mildew will need to be handled thoroughly by a professional cleaning team to ensure that the problem is resolved and possibly the inclusion of a contractor if this is a reoccurring problem due to some structural design issue.
So where exactly can you look to find the cause of your IAQ problems?
- Tobacco smoke
- Cleaning products
- Malfunctioning HVAC unit
- Printers or copy machines
- Fragrances and cosmetics
While most buildings will likely have a little bit of all these, they only really become a problem when levels accumulate faster than they can be ventilated.
How to Solve and Prevent Poor IAQ
Once you understand the source of your building’s poor IAQ, it’s fairly easy to correct the air quality problem. To prevent future instances, like in the case of mold or mildew, you can use materials around the office that are resistant to these factors. High-density polyethylene (HDPE), for example, is naturally resistant to mold, mildew, and bacteria. Plus, it has no VOC emissions, making it perfect for any workplace that wishes to improve the overall IAQ.
There is an art to creating a great fitness center. In addition to providing the latest equipment, friendly knowledgeable trainers, clean locker rooms, and lots of hot water, your locker room needs to breathe.
Unfortunately many locker room ventilation systems are improperly designed, leading to issues such as high humidity, mold, corrosion, nasty odors, and unhappy members. On the other hand, a well-designed ventilation system means happier members, reduced maintenance, and increased sales.
Locker rooms are constantly bombarded with moisture from members who come in perspiring after workouts; from the humidity released when they shower; and by the moisture released in steam and sauna areas. That’s why it is critical to provide effective dehumidification combined with an exhaust system designed to capture and exhaust large quantities of moist air out of the building. If the excess moisture in the locker room is not properly vented, it will affect lockers, benches and other assets, and migrate to other areas of the facility.
Whether you are building a new facility or renovating an existing locker room, make sure your architect or engineer is providing an effective ventilation system that exhausts moisture out of the building as required by the International Building Codes. Some of the ventilation technologies currently being used for fitness facilities, include:
- Energy Star-rated products, including solar-powered fans and other eco-friendly technologies,
- Systems which reduce the energy required for drying and dehumidification, such as liquid desiccant technology,
- Bi-polar ionization air-purification systems, to ventilate and also break down odors
- And equipment that measures volatile organic compounds and particulates
Other Locker Room Considerations
In addition to proper ventilation, also consider the following when designing your locker room.
- Using water-sealed ceiling tiles and ceramic floor tiles
- Installing CO2 sensors for ventilation control
- Selecting lockers that will not absorb moisture, and that will not corrode or delaminate in a high-moisture environment
Specify Tufftec Lockers®
Locker rooms – and the lockers in them – can be breeding grounds for mold and bacteria. Manufactured from solid HDPE, Tufftec Lockers® stand up to the many challenges of the locker room environment. Moisture is never an issue. Tufftec Lockers® are impermeable to moisture, resistant to mold and mildew, and will never rust, corrode, or delaminate. They are also naturally bacteria resistant and will not support the growth of bacteria, including MRSA. Easy to clean, and impact and dent resistant, Tufftec Lockers® will preserve their good looks for years to come. And most importantly, your investment is backed by the best warranty in the industry.
Selecting Scranton Products Tufftec Lockers® for your facility is a sound investment that will help keep your locker room odor-free, reduce your maintenance sots, and keep your members happy for many years to come.
To find out more about Tufftec Lockers® and our customizable locker solutions, please click on the link below.
Whether you’re conducting a thorough renovation of your facility’s restrooms or the partitions have succumbed to wear and damage, it’s important to choose the right restroom partitions. There are plenty of options out there, but you don’t want to make the same mistake twice. That’s why you should come prepared with questions so you can make the right decision towards the new stalls in your facility’s bathrooms.
Here’s the right questions to ask when shopping for new restroom partitions.
What Do These Partitions Offer in Terms of Durability?
Regardless of what type of facility you oversee, you’ll want to be sure that you’re choosing reliable materials for your restroom. Durability is important because you want the doors and frames to be strong and not endure any unnecessary damage due to an occupant closing the door a little rough. While there are plenty of strong and reliable materials out there, HDPE rises to the top due to its scratch- and dent-resistant surface. This material can take quite a few hits and not show any surface damage or cosmetic issues.
Is There a Paper Core Interior?
Most run-of-the-mill toilet partitions feature a paper core interior. However, you’ll want to avoid this for a variety of reasons, but mainly to avoid any costly replacements down the road. Paper core interiors may seem cost-effective at first, but due to the constant exposure to humidity and moisture, they can end up absorbing the moisture. Soon after they absorb the moisture, they can begin to sprout mold, resulting in foul odors and bacteria. Eventually, a replacement of the entire affected partition will be needed. For the best results, you’ll want to seek out a solid non-absorbent material like HDPE.
Do These Partitions Require Considerable Maintenance?
There’s no way to avoid routine maintenance; however, choosing the right material can greatly reduce the costs and the time spent on repairs and adjustments. What you want to look for is a material that can withstand the elements, provide a strong structure, and have a great screw retention. Another factor to consider is finding a material that doesn’t have to be repainted, so you don’t have to take the time to not only paint, but close off your restroom until the harmful toxins and emissions have dissipated.
How Long Will These Partitions Last?
When you’re investing in new toilet partitions, you’ll want to be sure that it’s money well-spent. That means choosing a material that not only meets your criteria, but a material that will last you the years without needing frequent replacements. HDPE solid plastic is warranted for 25 years, meaning that it can last, and is covered should an unforeseen event occur that requires a replacement of your partition.
It’s good to ask these questions when you’re browsing different materials that can be used as your next toilet partitions. You’ll want to make the right decision by choosing a durable and low-cost maintenance material that will last. Want to learn more about finding the right materials? Check out this free eBook, Choosing Bathroom Materials, from your friends at Scranton Products.
It’s easy to overlook maintenance costs when designing a new building, but it could end up hurting you. That’s because administrators, contractors, architects, and other building officials are under constant pressure to keep costs down and stay within budget. However, choosing the cheapest materials or building methods can have expensive maintenance requirements.
In this post, we take a closer look at why it’s important to consider maintenance costs when designing a new building as well as the difference between initial cost and life cycle cost.
Understanding Initial Cost and Life Cycle Cost
When you create a budget for a new building design, you’re looking at the initial cost. The budget specifies how much of the allocated funds will be used for each component, including supplies and labor. Although it’s true that every project relies on this number for approval, shooting for the lowest initial cost isn’t always the best decision.
For example, when purchasing building materials, the least expensive option might be of the poorest quality. In most circumstances, you pay more for higher quality and longer material life span.
Life cycle cost, on the other hand, is a way of budgeting that considers the entire cost of a material over the course of its life span. This includes any anticipated repairs, replacements, or maintenance. For example, let’s say one lamp cost $100 and another cost $200. The first lamp is cheaper, but the life expectancy of the second lamp is three times as long.
Thus, you’d spend more money in the long run by purchasing the $100 lamp since you’d have to replace it twice before you’d need to replace the more expensive lamp.
Calculating Maintenance Costs
Now that you’ve learned the difference between initial and life cycle costs, it’s easy to see why buying for life cycle costs is the smarter choice. But how exactly do you know if a material or building method will help to lower maintenance costs? Here are a few ways to help you make the right decision.
Is It Easy to Clean?
Clean materials tend to outlast those that aren’t, so opting for materials and products that are easy to clean and care for is a great idea. But not only might the material last long, it could also save you money on cleaning costs since less cleaning materials will need to be used.
Does It Resist Damage?
Being durable is a good sign that the product or material is going to help cut your long-term maintenance costs. The good news is, products that are resistant to damage like dents, scratches, or graffiti will usually showcase that aspect as one of the primary features of the product. If you’re not sure, talk with your architect or contractor.
What Kind of Regular Care Does It Need?
Lights will need to have their bulbs replaced, HVAC systems will require routine maintenance, but it’s important to know these things before you make a purchase and factor that into the life cycle cost. For example, HDPE bathroom partitions are colored throughout and don’t require painting or repainting, whereas metal partitions do.
As you can see, it’s vital for you to consider maintenance costs when designing a new building. Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to building a cost-effective facility.
When you select new lockers for your school hallway or gym locker room, you need to choose durable and long-lasting materials that will withstand the daily wear and tear of the facility’s environment. But with so many different options to choose from, how can you be sure that you’ll choose the right one for your school or facility?
To help you learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of the various locker material choices available to you, we’re here to give you some locker room design tips. Read on to learn how to choose the right locker material for your needs.
Lockers made out of wood are used in a number of higher end settings. They share many of the same durability issues as painted metal but don’t perform as well since wood is typically more susceptible to damage from direct impacts than metal. If laminated plywood is used, that material may experience delamination if water or other liquids are able to seep between the layers.
The biggest issue with wood as a locker material is the fact that it is porous, meaning it will absorb odors as well. The odors can compound and create an unwelcome situation not only within a locker, but within a room or corridor where they are located. The porosity of the wood speaks of its organic nature and its ability to contribute as a food source for the growth of mold. Wood lockers will similarly require repainting or refinishing over time for a variety of reasons related to use, fading, and wear and tear.
Metal lockers are frequently found in school hallways and gym locker rooms because of their low cost and the view that they’re the standard product in the industry
Lockers made out of painted metal have been a common and long standing choice among many school districts and architects. They are typically viewed as a low cost option and a standardized product. However the cost benefit is limited to the initial purchase cost of the lockers only. Over time, they have been shown to require significant maintenance and attention which translates to more costs for several reasons.
While metal is seen to be fairly durable it certainly bends and is susceptible to dents and other damages. When the paint is compromised, then the metal is unprotected and that can lead to further damage such as corrosion or rust. This creates issues of both security and appearance if the damage occurs on the outside of the locker. It can also be a significant issue on the inside of the locker, particularly if wet items are placed on the bottom, scraping paint off and causing rust. That rust could eventually require the bottom or the whole locker unit to be replaced. In addition to the durability limitations of painted metal lockers, there are issues with keeping them clean and attractive. Painted metal has very low resistance to graffiti, scuffs and stains. Removal of any of these is typically not an easy task and may require the use of solvents that can damage the painted surfaces. In certain cases, removal may not be readily possible and the only option is to repaint.
Phenolic is a hard, dense material made by applying heat and pressure to layers of paper impregnated with synthetic resin. Phenolic lockers are the most commonly thought of as durable lockers but are extremely heavy. Phenolic lockers are also not color throughout and most known for their black core exposed edges.
Phenolic material is not recyclable and not made in the US due to its harsh chemicals.
HDPE Plastic Lockers
HDPE plastic lockers are inherently moisture impermeable and non-porous, therefore lockers made of this material will never rust, corrode, or delaminate. For this reason, they are require little maintenance and have a low cost of ownership. From the standpoint of general durability, an impact test conducted following ASTM standards showed that HDPE plastic lockers had 59 times greater resistance to impacts when compared to metal lockers.
The nature of this material is to absorb and disperse any impact, meaning that dents are not likely and it is more resistant to abuse. Further, since the material is manufactured with solid coloring throughout, it makes scratches difficult to see, helping to retain its appearance under normal wear and tear conditions.
From a general maintenance standpoint, the qualities of HDPE that make it impermeable and nonporous mean that dirt, marker, paint and other items don’t stick to it. Worry-free maintenance is a real possibility when HDPE lockers are installed.
Even though there are many material options to choose from for lockers, it is important to understand the characteristics and what material will best fit your facility’s needs.
Sustainable design, also known as sustainable architecture or ecological design, is a school of thought that focuses on creating buildings that feature social and ecological sustainability. The main goal of this design philosophy is to promote the health of the building’s occupants as well as reduce the building’s negative effects on the environment.
By minimizing waste, limiting the consumption of non-renewable resources, and using environmentally friendly materials, building designers can create greener, more energy-efficient facilities.
Understanding Sustainable Architecture
One of the key principles behind sustainable architecture is optimizing the potential of the site. For example, if the facility is located in a windy area, windmills could be constructed to help generate power. This example would also help with another principle: minimizing the consumption of non-renewable energy.
A third goal of the design practice is to enhance indoor environmental quality. This could include using materials that have a low volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions rating. This also includes using environmentally friendly products in other areas of the design process.
All of these principles are designed to inform every stage of the facility’s life cycle, from planning to operation, to limit the negative impact it has on the surrounding environment.
Is Sustainable Design Cost-Effective?
Every building designer or architect knows that staying within budget is a primary concern during the construction stage. So it’s no surprise to learn that many worry if trying to design an eco-friendly building will exhaust the budget. The simple answer is no. In fact, there’s evidence that sustainable buildings actually provide many financial rewards to the owners and operators.
For starters, annual operating costs are typically lower in sustainable buildings because of the principle of energy efficiency during the design process. This means that electricity, water, and even maintenance expenses are considered and optimized.
Additionally, these reduced long-term costs don’t necessarily mean higher initial costs. When planned strategically with the right materials, the initial costs of a sustainable design can mirror or beat the costs of a traditional building. Although, some sustainable features may have a higher initial cost, these additions typically pay for themselves quickly through lower maintenance and operational costs.
Aside from monetary benefits, green building design can also benefit building owners and occupants in other ways. For one, occupants of eco-friendly buildings typically experience better overall health, which often translates to better attendance and less absenteeism due to illness. Building owners can benefit from longer building life spans and increased support from the local community.
Using Sustainable Materials
Using sustainable materials is a great way to reduce your building’s carbon footprint. Materials like high-density polyethylene (HDPE) can be used for a variety of applications throughout the facility. HDPE, for example, can be used for bathroom partitions, vanities, and lockers. It’s 100% recyclable, is naturally resistant* to bacteria and rust due to its solid HDPE plastic resisting mold, and mildew, will not absorb water., and produces no VOC emissions.
Using HDPE products can also help your facility to earn points toward Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. This rating system helps to evaluate the environmental performance of a building.
As a professional contractor or building administrator, you’re faced with a number of important decisions. When it comes to sourcing materials for bathrooms, you want to be sure the that materials you choose are durable, require little routine maintenance, and fit within your budget, which can be easier said than done.
So in this post, we’ll teach you how to choose commercial bathroom partitions for just about any facility, from schools to stadiums to office buildings and more.
Selecting Cost-Efficient Materials
One of the most important factors when choosing bathroom partitions is cost. There are many different materials available, with varying initial and long-term costs to consider. The five materials we’ll look at are enamel painted steel over paper, phenolic core, stainless steel, reinforced composite, and high-density polyethylene.
Baked Enamel Painted Steel Over a Paper Honeycomb Core
The most inexpensive of these is definitely baked enamel painted steel over a paper honeycomb core. This type of partition is frequently found in schools and office buildings because of its low initial cost. However, the life expectancy of enamel painted steel is extremely low given its propensity to rust when exposed to moisture.
Solid Phenolic (Black Core)
Solid phenolic core, sometimes referred to as black core because of its color, features a resin-impregnated kraft paper core. This material is very dense and composed of many compressed layers, similar to how fiberglass is created. However, this material may easily be damaged by scratches.
Many designers for high-end establishments and sports clubs favor stainless steel because of its clean and modern look. However, stainless still is also prone to rust and high costs, both initially and in terms of routine maintenance. Stainless steel partitions are also known to show smudges and fingerprints easily, making them harder to keep looking clean.
Solid Color Reinforced Composite (SCRC)
You’ll commonly spot SCRC in high-traffic areas such as sporting arenas, schools, and train stations. This material is durable like black core partitions. The two biggest downsides to SCRC are the high cost, as it’s much more expensive than solid plastic or stainless steel, and its limited color options.
High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
HDPE is a type of solid plastic that’s perfect for use as commercial bathroom partitions. About 1 inch thick and solid color throughout, HDPE is highly resistant to graffiti, scratches, mold, mildew, and even bacteria. Given that this material is environmentally friendly and doesn’t negatively impact the indoor air quality, it’s a favorite for schools, medical facilities, and restaurants. It also requires little long-term maintenance.
Installation Types for Your Commercial Bathroom Partitions
Depending on the design of your commercial bathroom, there are four different methods for installing your bathroom partitions. The fastest and most economical option is to have the partitions floor mounted and overhead braced. This type of installation process works well with either wood or concrete floors and works by mounting the pilasters to the floor and the panels to the wall. An anti-grip aluminum headrail is positioned along the top of the partitions to offer additional support and stability.
If your bathroom has a low ceiling, you can choose to have them floor mounted only. This method requires at least 2 inches of concrete flooring in order for the pilasters to be mounted firmly. The panels are then mounted to the wall. The top of the partitions will be flush.
For a modern and unique look, or if the floors of your bathroom aren’t adequate for mounting, ceiling-hung partitions are a great option. You’ll need steel ceiling supports to withstand the weight and installation process. The pilasters are mounted to these supports, and the panels are mounted to the walls. One benefit of this installation method is that it makes the floor of the bathroom easy to clean.
The final installation method is floor-to-ceiling. In this scenario, pilasters are mounted to both the floor and the ceiling for maximum strength. It’s suggested that the facility have concrete floors and steel ceiling supports.
Choose an Eco-Friendly, Sustainable Material
When you choose high-density polyethylene (HDPE) materials from Scranton Products for your restrooms, lockers, and other interior applications, you’re supporting a healthier environment both inside and outside your facility. Our HDPE products help to reduce environmental impact and offer initial and long-term improvements to the indoor air quality of your projects.
Choose a Color That Compliments
The last step in choosing commercial bathroom partitions is selecting the color. Materials like HDPE come in a wide variety of colors and textures so you have plenty of options to choose from. You can either go with a shade that matches the interior of the bathroom or pick a different color that compliments the theme. Either way, you’re sure to be left with one terrific-looking bathroom.
Want more information about building a cost-effective bathroom? Download our eBook The Professional’s Guide to Commercial Bathroom Renovations and Remodels. This FREE resource is full of useful information that will teach you pro tips for choosing materials, how advances in materials are leading to more fluid designs, and which must-have amenities your commercial bathroom needs.
When designing and building a new facility or upgrading one, taking advantage of new concepts and designs will lead to more comfort for your patrons and a facility that doesn’t negatively impact the world around you.
Certain products and materials that you use to build your facility can have a significantly negative or a significantly positive impact on the world you live in, and you want to be sure that you know which way your building concepts and designs will lead. However, you can be certain of this when you get LEED certification for your facility, and we’re here to show you how.
What Is LEED Certification?
LEED certification for your facility’s restroom or locker room ensures that the products and building concepts you choose live up to beneficial environmental standards. For example, LEED certification makes note of using sustainable building materials that reduce waste because they’re created with recycled materials and can be recycled as well. LEED certification also promotes water efficiency, good air quality, construction approaches, and sites that are sustainable and don’t negatively impact the ecosystem.
Why Do I Need LEED Certification for My Buildings?
When you embrace the requirements of LEED certification, you work to promote a more environmentally friendly facility. Each step you take toward a more sustainable facility, the more points you’ll receive towards LEED certification. And if you receive said certification, your facility will be recognized as clean, environmentally friendly, and sanitary.
Certification from LEED is globally viewed as the premier mark of achievement for a sustainable building, which goes a long way for your business with customers.
How Can Scranton Products Help My LEED Score?
Many times green opportunities can be missed when designing your facility. A majority of the facility managers working to create an environmentally friendly building only focus on reducing the amount of water, energy, or heat produced by the facility.
While this is a deserving focus, spending all of your efforts on those elements makes it easier to miss out on some green opportunities that you’ll need to increase your LEED score so it can be considered certifiable.
Scranton Products can help your facility or business become LEED certified by working with you to incorporate environmentally friendly materials into your restrooms or locker rooms. Whether it’s new lockers, bathroom partitions, or sink vanities, our HDPE plastic materials tend to fly under the radar as a green opportunity but support a healthier environment and help to reduce the total amount of industrial waste.
HDPE materials from Scranton Products are made from post-consumer recycled content and are 100% recyclable on their own. By using these materials in your building concepts and designs, you’ll be that much closer to receiving LEED certification and being recognized by a leading environmental company as having a green building.
You can find out where you can purchase Scranton Product materials near you.
Have you noticed that the expenses of the restrooms in your facility are leading to high costs? Whether it’s excessive maintenance and repairs or unnecessary waste, those dollars and cents can add up to an overwhelming total. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can cut back on costs and save money by changing some things in your commercial facility’s restrooms.
We’re going to help you cut the costs with some of the top ways to save with your commercial restroom!
Reduce Your Energy Consumption
You may not realize it, but your lightbulbs are costing you a fortune! You can easily combat this by swapping them out with LED lights, which not only last longer than incandescent bulbs, but they also use way less energy to light up the restroom. You can reduce the costs even further by installing motion sensors, which will turn out the lights when there’s a lengthy period of inactivity in your restroom.
Utilize Motion-Sensing Faucets and Hand Dryers
Sometimes, the unnecessary expenditure of water can show a spike in your water bill. Whether an occupant leaves the water running or there’s a drip occurring throughout the day, it can end up adding to your overall costs. Installing motion-sensing faucets can greatly reduce water waste. Occupants won’t forget to turn off the faucet or fail to tighten the valve enough, reducing the water that gets wasted throughout the day.
Another way you can save with occupants washing their hands is by getting hand dryers. This prevents you from having to reorder paper towels each month. Not only will you notice a drop in expenditures on toiletries, but you’ll be taking your restroom into a greener direction.
Install Cost-Efficient Toilet Partitions
You may not realize it yet, but your toilet partitions can be a big red flag when it comes to the high costs of maintaining your restroom. Traditional partitions with a paper core are left susceptible to the elements, namely humidity and moisture, which can sprout mold within the partition and call for an entire replacement. Since mold is nearly impossible to remove from the interior of a partition, the entire partition needs to be replaced, which leads to high costs.
You can forgo replacing your partitions by choosing a material that can stand up to the moisture and humidity. HDPE (high-density polyethylene) plastic is one of the best materials for commercial restrooms due to its solid construction, non-absorbent exterior, and the fact that they’re built to last and are warranted for 25 years. These partitions are also low-maintenance, which saves you money over time by spending less man hours and money in the restroom. These partitions pay for themselves in just a few years due to the money you saved on maintenance.
Learning More About Saving Costs with Your Restroom
In this guide, you learned that when it comes to cutting costs in your facility’s restroom, you’ll need to utilize the right materials to truly see the money you’ve saved. Want to learn more about HDPE and how it can benefit your restroom? Check out this blog post, How HDPE Partitions Can Save You Money, from your friends at Scranton Products!
Take your HDPE research even further by seeing how it would look in your facility with our 3D Partition Visualizer!