Dual Flush Toilets at Women's Odegaard Restrooms

Project Size: Large, >$1,000
Estimated Amount to be requested from the CSF: $15,000

Letter of Intent:

UW is a leading university in sustainability.  While being ranked top 5 in the world, we, as a school, have taken the initiative and responsibility to lead by example.  Vincent and I (Robert) have put much thought into the impact and financial benefits a flush free urinal can have on campus.  We want to focus on implementing Water-less urinals at Odegaard Library due to its high traffic.  It has around 15-20 urinals, making this a very feasible project, and is possibly the most used when it comes to bathroom usage.  If UW takes a step in water conservation in a place as rainy as Seattle, how can others ignore the beneficial impact of flush free urinals.

Water-less urinals are a step towards lowering water consumption and carbon footprints.  Water may not be thought of as a limited resource in Washington, but the statistics show that more wildfires and lower water supplies have been evident in this state in the past years.  The whole earth shares the same water supply, and the UW should take action to lower water consumption.  A typical Water-less urinal can save approximately 40,000 gallons of water a year.  At a school like UW, with 40,000 students and a plethora of bathrooms, the amount of water that could be saved is huge.  A typical urinal uses 3 gallons of water per flush.  The flush free urinal uses 0 gallons of water from the first use to the last use.  Imagine how much water could be saved in Odegaard library alone. 

A crucial point about the Water-less urinal is that it does not force users to do anything differently besides not pressing the flushing handle, and lets be honest many often don’t flush when using a urinal.  It is a way for all urinal users to easily lower water consumption, without having to change their lifestyle.  Adding on, these urinals come with a sign/plaque that explains how they work and the saving they do.  Every time someone uses one of these urinals, they will read that 40,000+ gallons of water is being saved because of it.  This constant reminder has the potential to influence people to do more and make a push to further lower their water consumption or carbon footprint.  Adding more signs on how to save water or be more environmentally friendly could further influence users to be more sustainable. 

The Water-less urinal is a pretty simple technology that looks just like a normal urinal minus the flushing handle.  It is uses gravity to send fluids to a trap chamber with a liquid sealant.  This sends waste cleanly down the drainpipes without any smell.  The liquid sealant is usually held in a replaceable piece that uses filters the waste through oil, which is lighter than water, thus trapping waste and smell to the sewage system.  This process is already used to keep the smelly odors from sewage lines re-appearing on the surface.   As for sanitation, urine is sterile and once it passes through the filter, the urine will not be exposed to air where bacteria would normally grow.  Still, this is a bathroom and will need normal cleaning, regardless of what urinal technology.

This project is extremely feasible.  In simple terms this would be a three-step process: purchasing of the urinals and necessary parts, installation, and finally letting the campus know about them with a simple explanation of how they work.  The first step would include finding which urinal brand and number would be the best.  These urinals retail at $250-$1000 per urinal with a $50 replacement piece, which should be replaced after a predetermined amount of uses (roughly 1500 uses, depending on the model).  The second step would be hiring contractors to install the urinals.  These contractors can be found by Vincent and myself or we could use previous contracts that have already worked with the UW.  The purchasing of a Water-less urinal also often comes with an installation option at an additional cost.  As for timing, the installation phase would be relatively quick.  In a place such as Odegaard, one bathroom could be done at a time, so that there would always be at least a few places to use the bathroom when one is being worked on.  The last step is simply placing informative signs on the urinals that explain their water saving effects, and letting students know about the urinal change.  The main potential issue is that if the pipes are pressurized and not gravity based, they would have to be adjusted for the urinals to work correctly.  There is also the possibility of there being conflict with approval, as UW is a public university of the state.  However, both of these issues can be dealt with appropriately if necessary.  These urinals have had large success in California as well as gained popularity worldwide.  It is time UW takes this step as well. 

Funding of this Odegaard Water-less urinal project would be roughly $20,000 for urinals and replaceable pieces for a year with the addition of installation fees, another $10,000-$20,000 (the possibility of having to redo pipeline that satisfy flush free urinals make this cost have such a large range).  Overall costs are subject to vary depending on the model used and installation prices.  This is a large funded project, but it has more benefits than just saving water.  Each flush costs money, so over time these urinals could pay themselves off plus more, including costs for replaceable pieces. In adding to how sustainable of a school it is, UW could benefit from tax reductions and rebates for taking actions to reduce water consumption, as appropriate to city policies. 

Primary Contact First & Last Name: Robert Chang