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E-M:/ Using potable water to give baths to turds
- Subject: E-M:/ Using potable water to give baths to turds
- From: jmgear <email@example.com>
- Date: Sat, 03 Jun 2006 18:12:51 -0400
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- List-name: Enviro-Mich
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Enviro-Mich message from jmgear <email@example.com>
*Fighting Our Flush Fixation*
Environmentalists Preach Another Kind of Toilet Training
By Elizabeth Williamson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, June 3, 2006; B01
. . .
But try to find one of these toilets. As more builders earn plaudits and
save money with geothermal heating and bicycle parking, they remain more
likely to plant roof gardens than to install green toilets.
. . .
Behind such objections stands this truth: America remains a
flush-oriented society, and the more powerful the flush, the better.
"It was a morale issue," Anja S. Caldwell, green building chief for the
Montgomery County public school system, said of initial resistance to
the 50 waterless urinals introduced over the past year. "People thought
that by taking the flush away, you're taking an entitlement."
Six years after the U.S. Green Building Council established standards
governing construction with low environmental impact, buildings
certified by the builders' group total 6 percent of construction. The
trend is growing. Fifteen states and 49 cities -- including Maryland,
Virginia and the District -- have some green building legislation or
. . .
However, most of these buildings retain traditional plumbing. "We're
getting more questions about these [green] toilets and seeing more
interest in them," Holowka said. But for now, "they're a little bit
. . .
The flush toilet has long been a symbol of modern society. But water
shortages and sewage-related pollution have caused many societies to
rethink that symbolism. In Europe, water-saving toilets have been
standard for decades. But not until 1994 did U.S. federal law require
1.6-gallon toilets, cutting the water used each flush by more than half.
. . .
When the company's latest office tower, 2000 Tower Oaks Blvd. in
Rockville, opens in 2008, it will boast full daylight views and
triple-filtered air. Doors will be made of chopped, pressed straw. The
landscaping conserves water.
Such innovations sailed into the plans. Then came a debate over restroom
fixtures that culminated in what Abramson calls the "toilet summit."
In a wood-paneled conference room, 30 executives, architects and
engineers gathered around a model of the Caroma Caravelle 305 High
Performance Dual Flush. (Dual flush units let users choose what size
flush they need.)
As they watched, the Caroma salesman tossed four tennis balls into the
imported Australian toilet and flushed them all down, using less than a
gallon of water. He was battling "the perception that you've got to
flush these toilets twice to get a good flush," senior project manager
David Borchardt said.
The flushes succeeded, but the toilet did not. Developers chose
waterless urinals and low-flow faucets but no Caroma, which could have
saved thousands of gallons of water a year. Abramson said the model
failed because it lacked a hygienic, hands-free sensor.
Borchardt had another theory: "Americans just aren't used to these yet."
Chuck Foster stood in the basement of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's
headquarters in Annapolis, next to a playhouse-size metal tank. Flipping
open its lid, the foundation's chief of staff revealed nearly finished
When the foundation built its headquarters five years ago, it installed
12 Swedish compost toilets that cost $30,000 more to install than
conventional toilets but save $2,100 a year on water and sewage. The
compost enriches the building's natural landscaping.
"These are becoming more accepted," Foster said, "But this was a rough
one even for us to pull off."
The toilets are white and sleek. The compost pile lies about 10 feet
beneath a plastic chute. Near each toilet stands a pail of wood chips,
with a sign inviting people to toss in a handful after each use.
That's not really necessary, Foster said. It's for people, he said, "who
want to flush."
"They want some kind of closure."
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