Green scene: Driving efficiency and sustainability with smart restroom solutions

by David Cosentino — Originally published in the March/April 2020 issue of BOMA Magazine

While great strides have been made to outfit the modern workplace with the most up-to-date solutions possible, one area that has been overlooked until recently is the restroom. Leveraging smart building technology can not only improve a restroom’s appearance, it can further sustainability goals by significantly reducing unnecessary waste.

Ranked one of the top three sources of tenant complaints, an unkempt restroom can leave a negative and lasting impact on visitors. And, most tenants—more than 70 percent of them—will blame building management for their poor restroom experience. With the right technology, you can impress your tenants while also boosting your sustainability program and “green” image.

A smart strategy

Every property should have a restroom management strategy in place. A smart restroom solution can improve restroom maintenance and increase a property’s efficiency and sustainability.

Smart restroom solutions leverage the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) to take the guesswork out of replenishing bathroom tissue, paper towels and soap—and they do so sustainably.

The systems work by connecting door counters and towel, tissue and soap dispensers to sensors. Real-time data is sent to the cloud over secure networks to trigger alerts to building management and cleaning staff about products and battery levels, usage, jams and overall traffic.

The result is an effective solution for meeting property management goals, improving operational efficiency and strengthening sustainability results.

Delivering measurable outcomes

Smart restroom management helps to build a culture of continuous improvement through advanced analytics and data-driven insights.

Among other benefits, a smart restroom management system can reduce product consumption, minimize complaints, optimize labor and reduce waste.

Illustrating the value of smart management further is a comparison to how all restrooms were managed in the past—and how they are still managed in many properties. Without the ability to view inventory levels and see if dispensers are working properly, the cleaning staff is burdened with checking restrooms and dispensers on a fixed schedule, regardless of need. This approach results in wasted labor and prevents property managers from realizing a good return on cleaning investments. Adding to these drawbacks, it also leaves properties vulnerable to negative disruptions and reduced efficiency in many areas.

Without a smart system, properties may spend more on such consumables as bathroom tissue, towels and soap due to premature refills: The cleaning staff must decide whether to leave low product “as is” if a dispenser is not yet ready to be replenished or prematurely fill it based on when the next scheduled visit will occur.

If you have low or no complaints about product runout, the odds are that you are paying for it in excessive labor and consumables costs.

Adding value to your operations

By utilizing technology and data analytics to service restrooms more effectively, smart restroom solutions are changing this narrative. These systems also empower cleaning teams to perform better at their jobs. By moving from fixed schedules for restroom maintenance to real time alerts, dispensers can be refilled at the optimum time, reducing consumable spending and waste, and letting you know right away if a dispenser is jammed or not functioning properly.

Plus, with the addition of mobile apps, cleaners are more empowered. Apps can provide a single interface for cleaning staff to monitor product and battery levels, usage and overall traffic. For example, systems like the Onvation™ Compass App, part of the Kimberly-Clark Professional Restroom Management System, provide an optimized routing feature that allows cleaners to more efficiently manage their housekeeping route based on the service needs of each smart-enabled device within the facility. And, by proactively monitoring restroom conditions in real time, this technology lets properties refill dispensers when product is actually low, helping to reduce waste and enabling you to reach your sustainability goals.

This leads to more value-added cleaning, as well as better decision-making. It builds accountability and leads to continuous improvement plans that are measurable and more effective. Smart restroom systems allow you to look at your property holistically and understand where and when resources are needed. It’s time that commercial properties reflect a new story of restroom management—one with a happier, efficient and more sustainable ending.

About the author

David Cosentino is the national sales leader for Kimberly-Clark Professional’s Onvation™ Smart Restroom System. He and his team help building managers optimize business results with IoT smart technology. Visit

BOMA Magazine is the official magazine of the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International. It is a leading source for the latest news, issues and trends affecting the commercial real estate industry.