How Can Building Owners and Managers Reduce Water Consumption?

While we could discuss a number of steps building owners and managers can take to reduce water consumption, a change that has one of the biggest impacts on reducing water consumption is in the restroom. In most commercial facilities, more water is used in the restroom than anywhere else in the facility. One of the few exceptions is when a facility is heavily landscaped.

Back in the 1970s, a toilet or urinal used as much as 3 gallons of water per flush – sometimes more. By 1992, manufacturers were legally required to reduce this to 1.6 gallons per flush for toilets and 1 gallon per flush for urinals. But then private industry stepped up to the plate. Realizing there was both a need and a market for more water-efficient products, companies developed an entire range of fixtures that use even less water than is mandated.

For instance, by now most of us are aware of dual-flush toilets. On average, these use about 1.25 gallons of water per flush and are found in all types of facilities as well as in homes. There are even sensor-controlled dual-flush toilets. The sensor determines which type of flush is needed – to remove liquid waste or solid waste – depending on how long the toilet has been used. (More than 60 seconds usually tells the sensor a bigger flush is needed.)

Compressed-air toilets, or pressure-assisted toilets, typically used on airplanes, use about a half-gallon of water per flush. These systems appear to have a growing future in commercial and residential facilities. And don’t be surprised to run into a no-water toilet someday. While they are mostly installed in residential settings, their popularity is also growing.

The big progress with urinals actually happened about 25 years ago. That was when waterless or no-water urinals were introduced in the U.S. While the interest in these systems has ebbed and flowed, it looks like interest in waterless urinals is likely to reach a new crescendo in the coming years. The reason is California.

Starting this year in California, all new urinals installed must use a half gallon of water per flush or less. Because the state is such a huge market for restroom fixtures, it is expected that manufacturers will expand this mandate and introduce urinals throughout the country that use just use a half gallon of water per flush.

However, and this is where the crescendo part comes in, it already appears more building owners and managers are likely to take the next step and abandon traditional water-using urinals altogether. Instead, they are installing no-water or waterless urinals.

One of the key reasons is cost savings. In most cases, a waterless urinal is less expensive to select, less expensive to install (no flush valve connections are required), and less expensive to maintain. So the way building owners and managers see it, this is essentially a dollar-and-cents issue. Why select and install more costly urinals, even if they just use a half-gallon of water per flush, when another cost effective option is to install a no-water system?


For more information on how to reduce water consumption and use water more efficiently, please contact a Waterless Co. representative.