Product specifications are an important part of any design project. There are many criteria that influence the best choice of materials, fixtures, appliances, lighting, or any of the many items that go into a bathroom or the auxiliary spaces that you are designing. The products must be functional
FIGURE 3.1 A New Orleans example of a compact house
as well as aesthetic, meet the needs of the client, follow the building code, fall within the budget, Infrogrmation/ CC-BY-SA-3.0 be compatible with other products being installed—and the list goes on. Add the priority of sustainability, and a complex process is now even more complex.
Evaluating a product for sustainability can be difficult because the criteria are not always clear-cut.
Some sustainable practices are easier to accomplish or may be a higher priority for your client.
Some sustainable practices have immediate impact, some do not.
Resource use is a basic measure of sustainability. For example, how much energy or water does this product use? Transportation costs are another measure. For example, was the product manufactured locally? However, the picture can then become more complex to evaluate. How sustainable is the manufacturing process for different product choices? Which material has the lesser impact on indoor air quality? Which product can be recycled after use?
There are a growing number of independent and reliable testing, evaluation, and certification programs that evaluate one or more sustainability criteria of products and materials used in bathrooms and auxiliary spaces. Many of these programs are discussed in this chapter and can be used to assist you and your client in developing a high-quality and effective sustainable project.