The greatest opportunities for greening a bathroom remodel come from managing water, but in two very different ways: managing incoming use (in pipes) and outgoing flows (both liquid and vapor). Green bathrooms need the highest performing faucets, shower heads, and toilets. But they also need walls designed and constructed to handle both liquid water and high humidity, and exhaust fans that efficiently and quietly move water vapor out of the space. The bathroom is also a good place to invest in durable surfaces, ones that stand the test of time both aesthetically and functionally.
Bathroom remodeling may be taken on for different reasons: a water leak or moisture intrusion problem that results in the need for structural repairs, a desire to make the bathroom more functional or convenient, the need to accommodate a growing family, a change in health or mobility of a family member, a desire to improve the bathroom appearance, or a desire to upgrade appliances and fixtures. The bathroom represents an important opportunity to weigh the desire for more glamorous amenities that may seldom be used (such as a Jacuzzi or a steam shower) against a desire for a more practical, more convenient, and more resource-efficient space.
Any opportunity to improve the home’s building envelope should be considered at the time of a bathroom redesign and remodel. The project might include extensive re-plumbing and re-wiring; if any future remodeling projects are being considered, evaluate whether those other projects might be affected by the bathroom remodel and plan accordingly. Designing for reduced mobility with aging can allow homeowners to live in their homes longer. Selection of taller (ADA compliant) toilets, wheelchair-accessible sinks and cabinets, and framing to allow later installation of grab bars can be smart and sustainable choices.