YOU NEVER KNOW what product you will stumble upon when you enter a UDR apartment unit. The Highlands Ranch, Colo.-based REIT is constantly “testing” new kitchen and bath products, ranging from dual-flush toilets and multi-headed shower faucets to instant hot water heaters.
Testing allows multifamily operators to determine which products should be installed in every unit and is a smart way to avoid making large investments that don’t provide a good return, explains Jerry Davis, head of operations for UDR, which owns and operates more than 45,000 units across the nation. “When we’re testing new plumbing fixtures, for example, we may put in three or four different products in different units to see which ones work better and which ones the residents like better,” he says.
Based on those tests, the REIT will decide which products it wants to roll out to other properties. For example, UDR has installed the Sydney dual-flush toilet from Caroma USA (highlighted in the March 2009 issue of MFE) at one of its new properties, the 465-unit Belmont in Dallas, and, if successful, will install the product at additional communities.
Many of the products UDR has tested are similar to those that can be found in kitchens and baths in single-family homes, Davis notes, including deeper kitchen sinks and kitchen faucets with attached aerators. “A lot of people coming into the rental market—Echo Boomers and Baby Boomers—are used to living in single-family houses, so we want to give them the things they like,” Davis says. “It differentiates our apartments from standard apartments.”
Safe Shower: Previously available only in Europe, wedi Corp.’s Riolito shower system is now sold in the United States. This prefabricated system, which is an alternative for wet rooms or baths requiring ADA compliance, accommodates completely flush floors for showers of varying sizes and surfaces. The product may also be installed on subfloors. For more information, call wedi Corp. at 877-933-9334 or visit www.wedicorp.com.
Diamond Hard: Delta Faucet Co.’s Talbott kitchen series now features DIAMOND Seal Technology. Talbott’s 9-inch flared spout with hidden cache aerator and 360-degree swivel design is made with the DIAMOND valve, an integrated ceramic valve cartridge featuring one ceramic disc and one diamond-embedded ceramic disc. The valve will last up to 5 million uses—up to 10 times longer than the industry standard. For more information, call Delta Faucet Co. at 800-345-3358 or visit www.deltafaucet.com.
Lovely Lavatories: Gerber has expanded its Wicker Park suite to include self-rimming and wall-hung vitreous china lavatories. Contemporary in design, the new lavatories offer expanded deck space and generous wash basins with 8-inch centers. The self-rimming sink includes a concealed front overflow to provide users with spotless counter space, while the wall-hung lavatory is ADA compliant. For more information, call Gerber at 630-754-0278 or visit www.gerberonline.com.
Water Saver: TOTO’s contemporary one-piece UltraMax II high-efficiency toilet features a gravity-fed flushing system. With its 1.28 gallons-per-flush (gpf) double cyclone flush engine, which consumes 20 percent less water than the traditional 1.6 gpf mandated by the Energy Policy Act of 1992, the UltraMax II meets EPA WaterSense requirements. The UltraMax II also offers an ergonomic, comfortable height design. For more information, call TOTO at 888-295-8134 or visit www.totousa.com.
Jet Flush: H2Option from American Standard is a dual-flush toilet that uses jetted siphonic action, which adds push to the water from under the rim of the bowl. Using as little as one gallon of water on the low setting, this flushing system scours the sides of the bowl to remove every last trace of paper and waste. According to American Standard, replacing a 1.6 gallons- per-flush toilet with H2Option saves 1,400 gallons of water per year, enough to fill three hot tubs. For more information, call American Standard at 800-899-2614 or visit www.americanstandard.com.
Double Duty: The new Aqua Divide sink design from Elkay offers the flexibility of both a double bowl and a large, single bowl in one stainless steel sink. The partition can be lowered to allow pot and pan handles or oversized items to extend over it, providing the benefits of a large, single sink. Keeping the 4-inch partition in place creates a traditional double bowl for separate wash and rinse compartments. For more information, call Elkay at 630-572-3192 or visit www.elkayusa.com.