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Intelligent Restroom Design

Posted on 9/12/2012 in Dryers

I always am asked about public and private bathroom design, and it has amazed me in my travels how little thought must go into the layout and design of these restrooms.  You know, the one that has room for 20 people to go to the bathroom but only hand washing for 6.  Or the 8 sinks with only one paper dispenser.  Or the hand dryer across the room that will never be used because there are paper towels right on the sink.  Right?

I won't get into my thoughts on throughput, but bathroom designers should study Operations Management and how to maximize throughput, especially in bathrooms that handle heavy traffic.  It's not that hard.

For my purpose, I am intrigued by the hand drying options and the locations.  Especially in bathrooms that have hand dryers but also have paper, which is becoming more and more the norm.  If you bought and installed hand dryers, it's likely that you did so to save money and for sustainability.  You probably left paper towels to avoid complaints, but you'd like to encourage people to use the hand dryers.  What's the best strategy? Location, location, location.

I happen to travel, and the Nashville Airport is a great example of intelligent restroom design.  The doorways have no doors, only an S-curve.  The sinks are along a wall in pairs, with a dividing wall in between each pair.  I think there were 8-10 sinks in all.  The dividing wall extended up from the countertop.  Below each diving wall is a Dyson Airblade hand dryer.  So, imagine, it goes 2 sinks, then an Airblade.  Then 2 sinks, then another Airblade.  Etc.  On the last dividing wall towards the door is a single paper dispenser.

What the Airport gets is 90% of the people using the hand dryers.  The towels are there for people who need to wash a face or clean a spill or just prefer towels, but they are not obvious.  The hand dryers are the obvious choice, and since they are high-speed Dysons that can dry in just 12 seconds, they keep the throughput going.  I'd be guessing on how much paper usage and cost that the airport saves annually, but I'm guessing it's in the $10's of thousands!