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Waterless Urinals

With resource costs steadily on the rise, building


“green” may not be the expensive decision it once
was. Waterless urinals are a cost-effective and
highly efficient way to help achieve the goal of a
LEED-certified building. Not only do they
substantially reduce water usage, but they’re also
easy to obtain, install, and maintain.

According to one manufacturer of waterless urinals


(Falcon Water Free Technologies), you can save, on
average, 45,000 gallons of water per year with one
urinal. A Texas elementary school was retrofitted
with 10 waterless urinals and achieved a 15-20%
reduction in water consumption. The water and
sewer savings alone resulted in a two-year payback.

LEED APPLICATION

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design


(LEED) is a program administered by the United
States Green Building Council that uses a Green
Building Rating System to register and certify the
world’s greenest buildings. Since buildings currently
use 12% of the potable water consumed in the U.S., Waterless Company www.waterless.com
they have the potential to have a large impact on our
energy conservation efforts. GREEN BUILDING ISSUES

This system assigns point values to different green According to Environmental Building News (EBN),
building practices and then awards a certain level of one of the main advantages to waterless urinals is
certification based on the number of points their water usage savings. Most of the 8-9 million
achieved. urinals in the U.S. average 3 gpf, although the new
models use only 1.0 gpf. Individual water savings
There are five broad credit categories from which to will vary depending on use. However, in a small
obtain points: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, office building with one urinal and 25 males working
Energy & Atmosphere, Material & Resources, and 260 days, you can save 19,500 gallons by
Indoor Environmental Quality. There are a total of substituting a waterless urinal for a 1.0 gpf urinal.
69 points available. To become certified at the base You can save 58,500 gallons of water if you
level, you need 26 of these points. Additional points substitute the waterless urinals for a 3.0 gpf unit.
may achieve a silver (33 pts), gold (39 pts), or
platinum (52 pts) certification. One case study involves the Bureau of Reclamation
at the Glen Canyon Dam Visitors Center. They
Waterless urinals fall under the broad category of installed three waterless urinals there, and due to
Water Efficiency. More specifically, they can help very high usage saved an estimated 225,000 gallons
achieve points under the Water Use Reduction of water per year. This allowed them to avoid a
credit. There are two possible points in this category planned $600,000 on-site sewage treatment
if you can reduce your water usage by 30% (you get expansion. This demonstrates how savings come
one point for a 20% reduction). from not only lower water usage but lower sewage
usage also.

Another benefit to waterless urinals is their


increased hygiene. Most people think that a urinal

K-State Department of Architectural Engineering & Construction Science, 240 Seaton Hall, Manhattan, KS 66506, www.ksu.edu/are-cns/, July 2004
that doesn’t “wash” itself with water will be dirtier Waterless urinals will need periodic maintenance
than one that does. This is not true. According to consisting of cleaning the bowling, adding BlueSeal,
EBN, bacteria, the primary concern in bathrooms, and replacing the EcoTrap. BlueSeal should be
need a moist environment to live. The primary added twice a month to replace the small amount
source of bacteria in bathrooms is fecal matter from that washes down the drain with each use. The
toilets; as toilets are flushed, some of the bacteria EcoTrap should be replaced two to four times a year
become airborne. These airborne bacteria settle on due to the sediment buildup. A gallon of hot water
surfaces close to toilets, but survive only on moist should be used to flush out the drain line when the
surfaces. Waterless urinals are designed to dry out EcoTrap is removed. The BlueSeal costs about $16
between uses, so they do not provide as hospitable per quart, and the EcoTrap costs about $5.50 and is
an environment for bacteria as conventional (wet) recyclable. However, even with the periodic
urinals and sinks. Users also report less urine smell maintenance required, there is still an average
than they experienced with conventional urinals. annual savings of $80-$120 per urinal. This comes
Even the chemicals used to make the urinal work from the lack of moving parts and piping. Waterless
are biodegradable and environmentally friendly. urinals also virtually eliminate the possibility of an
overflow.
DESIGN/CONSTRUCTION APPLICATION
According to EBN, waterless urinals cost around
So how does this waterless urinal manage to not $500 dollars with their flush valve counterparts
smell like urine without a water-filled trap? The costing about the same or a little more (depending
solution for the Waterless Co. lies in its “EcoTrap®”. on the flush valve specified). Some authorities also
Other companies use similar systems. As urine offer rebates and incentives for installing waterless
flows into the EcoTrap it passes through a urinals; for example $160 per fixture from the Seattle
lightweight biodegradable fluid called “Blue Seal®”. Water Department.
This liquid provides the “trap” for the odors.
ADDITIONAL INFO

Sources for this document and additional information


can be found at the following locations:

1. www.usgbc.org
2. http://www.rotaloo.com/waterle2.pdf
3. http://www.waterless.com/
4. http://www.epa.gov/ne/assistance/univ/pdfs/bmps/M
USCH20LessUrinals.pdf
5. http://www.buildinggreen.com
6. http://www.falconwaterfree.com/

from: http://www.waterless.com/ecotrap.php
This GreenBuild Tech Bulletin was developed by
A variation on this theme from Falcon WaterFree Luke Knapp, a student at Kansas State University.
Technologies is shown in the diagram below. Both As designers and builders of structural, mechanical,
of these traps allow sediment to settle at the bottom, electrical, and plumbing systems in buildings,
which can help keep the pipe free from buildup. architectural engineers and constructors have a
tremendous opportunity and responsibility to
address energy and/or environmental impacts in
their work.

from: http://www.falconwaterfree.com/

K-State Department of Architectural Engineering & Construction Science, 240 Seaton Hall, Manhattan, KS 66506, www.ksu.edu/are-cns/, July 2004