How to reduce restroom touchpoints for better hand hygiene

D|13 hands-free sink system

The Isenberg School of Management includes the D|13 Sink System featuring the new XLERATORsync Hand Dryer by Excel Dryer as well as hands-free soap dispensers and hands-free electronic faucets for a touch-free experience.

Can product design improve a restroom’s cleanliness? AIA partner Excel Dryer shows how the Seabury senior living community and Isenberg School of Management projects potentially reduced possible contagion points.

Proper hand hygiene has taken center stage recently as a prime method of protection during the global pandemic of COVID-19. Though hand hygiene has long been touted by public health officials as a first line of defense against contagion, recent events have only magnified its importance in curbing the spread of dangerous germs and diseases.

Consider a facility’s restroom, where customers often encounter a wide range of surfaces that require their touch—door handles, stall latches, toilet seats, sink faucet handles, and more. Reducing restroom touchpoints can cut down on the number of times a customer’s hands are exposed to germs.

Good product design can achieve this touchpoint reduction and contribute to a restroom’s good hygiene. Here are two projects—Seabury and Isenberg School of Management—that reduced restroom touchpoints.

Seabury

The elderly are often at greater risk for disease, due to compromised immune systems and underlying conditions that weaken their defenses against viruses. Seabury, a cutting-edge active Life Plan Community in Connecticut for residents over 50, recognized this as it underwent an $88 million repositioning and expansion program that included a redesign of the main lobby, a new creative arts studio, a luxury salon/day spa, and a beautiful new bistro, along with upgraded restrooms featuring hands-free functionality.

“We offer a full continuum of care on the Seabury campus,” said Seabury CEO Richard Heath. “On-campus care now includes dedicated rehab rooms, a new Hydroworx therapy pool; a primary care suite; skilled nursing; short-term rehabilitation; physical, occupational, and speech therapy; and Seabury Meadows, offering dynamic, memory-stimulating programming seven days a week.”

Seabury is the first privately owned Life Plan Community for adults 50 and over in the United States to receive a Green Globes designation, a result of their commitment to employing sustainable building practices with minimal ecological impact, including energy performance and reduction in water consumption. Part of their repositioning program included a solar panel system over car parking areas as well as a geothermal energy system to assist with heating and cooling.

Ensuring all environments are as hygienic as possible was also crucial to providing a full continuum of care. In the restrooms, health clinic, and skilled nursing areas, they added Excel XLERATOR hand dryers, which feature hands-free, no-touch sensors that provide a complete drying experience, reducing touchpoints for residents and staff alike. XLERATOR dries hands completely in eight seconds, per the Global UL Environment PCR testing standards, and comes with options like a washable HEPA filtration system and antimicrobial wall guards designed to improve the restroom’s overall hygiene.

“At Seabury, we’re committed to trying to reduce our carbon footprint,” Heath says. “The XLERATOR has definitely helped with sustainability, because we’re not using as much power and because of the reduction in paper use.”

Isenberg School of Management

When it came time for UMass Amherst to construct the Isenberg Innovation Hub, a $62 million, 70,000-square-foot-expansion of their business school, the institution turned to several top architectural design firms: Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and Goody Clancy. Massachusetts-based D|13 Group joined the project to design the integrated sink systems in restrooms throughout the facility.

In keeping with BIG’s and Goody Clancy’s reputations for focusing on sustainability and for designing buildings that are on the leading edge of energy efficiency, the Business Innovation Hub currently has a LEED Silver certification.

The restrooms feature the D|13 Sink System, an advanced design that seamlessly integrates hands-free soap dispensers, hands-free electronic faucets, and a high-speed, energy-efficient hand dryer for a streamlined, touch-free hand-washing/drying experience. The system’s XLERATORsync hand dryer features a “reverse airflow” design that blows air/water flow away from the user, has HEPA filtration that removes 99.97 percent of potentially present bacteria and viruses at 0.3 microns from the air stream, offers up to a 75-percent reduction in carbon footprint compared with even 100%-recycled paper towels, and helps facilities qualify for LEED credits and other green certifications.

Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) list proper hand hygiene among the best defenses against spreading germs. While washing hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with soap and water is important, equally important is completely drying them with a warm air hand dryer or paper towel, as germs are more easily transferred to and from wet hands.

To learn more about Excel Dryers and hand hygiene, click here.

AIA does not sponsor or endorse any enterprise, whether public or private, operated for profit. Further, no AIA officer, director, committee member, or employee, or any of its component organizations in his or her official capacity, is permitted to approve, sponsor, endorse, or do anything that may be deemed or construed to be an approval, sponsorship, or endorsement of any material of construction or any method or manner of handling, using, distributing, or dealing in any material or product.

Image credits

D|13 hands-free sink system

Excel Dryer

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