Are stainless steel metal finishes for plumbing fixtures more sustainable than polished chrome?
We are trying to ascertain the environmental benefits or hazards in selecting stainless steel finishes or polished chrome finishes for our plumbing fixtures for our clients. Any insights will be appreciated.
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These links may provide some helpful info, Paul:
Normal Stainless steel is 18 percent chrome and 8 percent nickel
Most metalworking and especially plating is something you really do not want to think about, it is all ugly
As far as health risks in use I doubt any of it makes any difference
"Most metalworking and especially plating is something you really do not want to think about, it is all ugly"
One could argue the opposite: if it's really ugly, that's what we should be paying the most attention to in planning a green building, rather than the moderate-impact stuff. Sort of the same principle as the idea that going from a super leaky house to a Pretty Good House (TM) saves more than going from a Pretty Good House to a Passive House. One the other hand, the volume of material in a plumbing fixture is tiny compared to the volume of building materials used, so that's an argument to focus your attention on the larger items.
Toward that end, there are collections of "impact factors" for life cycle analysis that attempt to compare the apples and oranges and give one number for overall impact. They are flawed, but not nearly as flawed as the head-in-the-sand approach.
The source that I think is easiest to use, if you are willing to buy a book:
The biggest environmental impact from the type of hardware you are describing comes from the fact that Americans remodel their kitchens and bathrooms before the fixtures are worn out.
But quality faucets and hardware that are solidly built and attractive, and use the hardware for 60 or 70 years. Don't be tempted to swap out your faucets with something new, and you'll be reducing your environmental impact.