Today at Berkeley Lab

Lab’s Restroom Retrofit Project Saves Over Half a Million Gallons of Water Per Year

Sustainable Berkeley Lab (SBL) and Facilities partnered to retrofit restrooms across the Hill site, resulting in an annual water savings of over half a million gallons. Urinals were replaced, dual-flush handles were installed, and porcelain and metal materials from old fixtures were recycled. This effort supports the Lab’s goal to reduce water-use intensity by 36% by 2025. More>

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  1. Thank you for your comment Nigel. We actually did do a pilot of waterless urinals at the Lab, with terrible results – substantial repair was required due to build-up in the pipes. We therefore chose pint-flush as a good alternative, since it saves 90% of the water of the prior units.

    Please note that only five buildings were part of this urinal retrofit project. Building 33, as one of the Lab’s newest buildings, was not part of this project.

  2. Nigel W. Moriarty says:

    I agree with Diana that multiple flushes are required which results in a false economy.

    I’d like to raise a point about urinals. There are two issues. Firstly, why are we not using water-free devices. Secondly, why are the devices set at a height that is designed to allow children to use. This second leads to misses and more water use for cleaning.

    I have visited many public toilets with waterless devices set at an adult height that are have a better success rate and clearly use less water. If we must use water base devices, there are splash-free devices that will help AND setting the devices at a more reasonable height based on the exclusively adult usage would as improve things.

  3. Thank you Kat & Ross!

    And thank you for the feedback on the dual-flush handles, Diana. I will pass that on.

    The half million gallons saved annually represents about a 5% reduction in total rest room water use on the Hill. Note that this was achieved through retrofitting only a selection of bathrooms. Urinal retrofits, which deliver the most savings, were only done in five buildings, due to their higher cost and complexity. We hope to be able to do more urinal retrofits in the near future.

  4. Rene' Delano says:

    Perhaps having hand sanitizer dispensers in the restrooms for use in lieu of hand water washing may help save even more..

  5. Maryann Villavert says:

    I second the issue stated by Diana. Sometimes the toilet paper does not even flush the first time. I don’t think the system operates correctly. Using the up or down motion to me in some buildings seem to be the same flushing water pressure. In others it is obvious.

  6. Diana Attia says:

    These seem great on multiple levels, but for women, they typically use a toilet seat liner prior to using the toilet. I have found that the paper liner doesn’t get fully flushed even when using the full flush, thus requiring a second flush. Am wondering if that zeros out the savings. Many times I have gone into female rest rooms and find that liner still in the toilet. Folks in a hurry flush and think they are done – but that pesky liner remains. That is a problem that remains.

  7. Can you mention how much water the restrooms used before vs. now? I.e., what fraction of previous use is 0.5M Gallons? 1% 5% 50%?

  8. Ross Schaefer says:

    Well done SBL and Facilities.

  9. Kat Wentworth says:

    Good work SBL and Facilities!

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