Is it time to revisit touchless fixtures?

For many years now, as a LEED Green Associate, I have recommended touchless faucets, toilets, and light switches to our clients as a way to reduce water and energy usage. Now, in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, touchless fixtures have an even more poignant use in offices – to help reduce the spread of infection.  

OSHA and CDC guidelines for bringing employees and patients back into offices recommend that shared restrooms be disinfected after each use. This involves either the user or someone else wiping down all high-touch surfaces, such as faucets, toilet levers, countertops, light switches, and door handles after every person. Installing touchless fixtures will definitely help reduce the number of shared surfaces users may come in contact with when disinfection may not be at its best. After all, I am skeptical of every user’s commitment to conducting thorough disinfection of a shared restroom before exiting it, and it just isn’t financially feasible for small businesses to hire restroom attendants like sprang up in nicer 1920’s restaurants.  

Automated or touchless light switches are also fairly straight forward changes to a restroom that can be made to eliminate the need for the user to turn on and off the light.  

While touchless door handles were never on my list of recommended items from an environmental perspective, retrofitting one’s restroom doors with a device that makes them “hands-free” is fairly easy. There are devices that can be mounted to the door so one may use one’s foot or toe and ones that allow a person to use their forearm rather than their hand to pull the door open.  

Since the pandemic looks to be with us for a while yet, taking the time to make these updates to your office restroom facilities will definitely make both employees and patients less anxious about returning.