A well designed public toilet is usually based on a high technical profile, heavy footfalls and facilities using efficient methodologies for every process utilised, as per Baum, Baum, (2015). Such a public toilet must be –
- Carefully planned
- Well ventilated
- Clean and dry
- Easy to maintain
- Friendly for persons with disabilities
The Hygiene Effect
Contagious diseases can easily spread from public restrooms, hence care should be taken that users have minimum contact with areas of common use, such as door knobs, faucet handles and dispensing utilities. Moreover, removing the main entrance door also helps in improving ventilation although screens should be placed to allow privacy of use. Use of electronic products for such utilities offer enhanced sanitation and cleanliness, explain Baum, Baum, (2015).
Public restrooms account for about a third of water consumption of a building. Poorly maintained or inefficient fixtures in a public restroom prove to be a major source of water wastage in big commercial buildings, but need significant and possible savings in this area, assert Christensen & Duncan, (2004).
The least ratio of male and female public restrooms in large commercial buildings should not be less than 3:5 that is 2 Urinals and 1 WC for male and 5 WCs for female users. It is advised by the Public and Environmental Health Council that all public restrooms should have mechanical ventilation and small public restrooms must have at least an exhaust fan. Also essential is a well-positioned lighting system with electricity energy saving features. Provision of natural lighting is helpful in creating a soft, friendly environment for the users, as detailed by Davis, (2007).
Materials Used and Finishing
Materials used for wall finishes should be durable, such as ceramic tiles or phenolic panels, as these also facilitate quick cleaning and conservation of resources, which include water and cleaning agents. Similar application should also be implied for floors made from waterproof, non-slip ceramic tiles or natural stone or other impervious materials, so that they also facilitate resource conservation and cleaning. For ceilings, use of calcium silicate board or suspended ceiling tiles is recommended by the Act, assert Luck, Race & Black (ed.), (2010).
TECHNOLOGIES CURRENTLY IN USE
There are many different varieties and brands of toilets and urinals available for all kinds of commercial use. It is for the builders and the federal agencies to ensure that all the fixtures used are water efficient and the most appropriate fixture is selected for the specific applications, explain Christensen & Duncan, (2004).
In the commercial buildings, most commonly used product category of toilets is Flush-o-Meter. Flush-o-Meter toilets use technology that sends water from the supply line into the bowl through a flush valve with great pressure to create a thorough flushing, as per Spoehr (ed), (2009).
Commercial buildings mainly make use of two types of urinals, Flush-o-Meter and Non-Water.
- Flush-o-Meter Urinals send a pressurized water jet from the supply line directly into the urinal fixture through the flush valve for creating a thorough flushing.
- Non-Water Urinals: has no provision for water, instead it has a cartridge at the bottom with a sealant, which allows the waste to flow through the cartridge directly into the drain line, says Spoehr (ed), (2009).
Flush-o-Meter toilets as well as urinals are usually fitted with electronic sensors which can automatically start the flushing process. Use of sensors seldom serves the purpose of saving water, rather they are installed for providing sanitary and health benefits as the user does not come into contact with the flushing lever, thus avoiding contagious germs from spreading, as per Barnes & Doidge, (2010).
For effective saving of water, the Federal laws require that all toilets must not use more than 1.6 gpf (gallons per flush) and urinals no more than 1.0 gpf. The technologies developed by some of the leading manufacturers of High Efficiency Toilets (HETs) and High Efficiency Urinals (HEUs) follow the guidelines given by the Federal Efficiency Standards. The Federal Environmental Protection Agency’s specifications for such HETs are for consuming less than 1.28 gpf and for HEUs to consume less than 0.5 gpf, as detailed by Barnes & Doidge, (2010).
Another important component of commercial restrooms are Wash Basins. These should be minimum of 500mm in length and 400mm in width. These wash basins should be fitted with taps which have the self-closing, delayed-action, which can be either sensor or mechanical type, say McFarlane, Hopkins & Nield, (2012). The Federal Guide to Better Public Toilet Design and Maintenance, 2013 prescribes that the Sensor Type Taps are more suitable for commercial building restrooms not only because they ensure a better standard of environmental hygiene but they also help in the preservation of water. Aesthetically also, such taps prevent the wetting of the vanity tops. As per the guidelines issued by the controlling authorities, the flow rate of the taps used in these basins should be a minimum of 2 lpm (litres per minute) and is not to exceed 6 lpm, assert McFarlane, Hopkins & Nield, (2012).
For maintaining a healthy environment as well as ensuring the hygienic conditions at the public restrooms, it has been the opinion of experts that use of foam soap be encouraged at such places instead of the usual liquid soap, as it is less soapy and hence helps in reducing the water usage. Sensor Dispensers are also encouraged for use in commercial use restrooms because they also preserve hygiene conditions. It is recommended that one soap dispenser is a must for two wash basins. In case the restroom has a long basin trough, there should be a soap dispenser for every two taps, as per Emerald Gems (ed), (2015).
Along with the soap dispensers, it is essential that one electronic hand-dryer is provided for every two wash basins or taps, assert Emerald Gems (ed), (2015).
PAPER TOWEL/TOILET PAPER DISPENSERS
It is recommended that double-roll toilet paper towel and toilet paper dispensers are installed as this will reduce the frequent replacing of the roll, which can be done only when both the rolls fully runs out, explain Emerald Gems (ed), (2015).
Litterbins are required to be provided either directly below or in the close proximity of the wash basins. This is essentially done to prevent littering on the floor of used paper towels which the users leave behind, as detailed by Tomlinson (ed.), (2012).
TOILET SEAT SANITIZERS/COVERS
It is also recommended by experts that for maintaining better hygienic conditions in the commercial restrooms, use of either the liquid toilet seat sanitizers or of disposable toilet seat covers is encouraged. These should be provided in every WC cubicle as this will not only ensure better hygiene but will also prevent wastage of toilet paper, as it has been observed that users are forced to place toilet paper over the seat cover in the absence of such a facility, says Tomlinson (ed.), (2012).
Use of automatic air freshener spraying systems should be installed at appropriate places in the commercial restrooms as they shall be preserving the air from contagious germs, confirms Hinkel, (2010).
Double hooks should be affixed, at a convenient height, behind the doors of the cubicle so as to be usable for all visitors, as per Hinkel, (2010).
This is a high priority requirement as well as recommendation because a well ventilated commercial restroom should be maintained free from germs and foul air. It has been observed by experts and health specialists that an ineffective ventilation system makes a commercial restroom unbearable, even though if may be well designed and equipped, assert Barnes & Doidge, (2010).
PLUMBING AND SEWERAGE SYSTEM
Equally important is this requirement for a healthy and safe commercial restroom. It should be made sure that all the pipes are concealed, except for the final connections made to fixtures. Wherever it is necessary to have exposed pipes, the exposed portions should be chrome-plated. The installation of all supply lines and fittings, leading to the plumbing fixtures should have mechanism which prevents backflow. Moreover, all plumbing fixtures are to be installed so that there is access to them for cleaning the fixture as well as the surrounding area, as per Barnes & Doidge, (2010).
OPERATIONS AND MAINTENANCE
- It should be ensured by the maintenance department that the water level in the tank is set as per the recommendations of the manufacturer’s manual and does not over-run over the provided overflow tube.
- An adjustment of the float be made immediately in case the water level is too high.
- It should also be ensured by the maintenance staff that the fill valve works properly and does not run constantly, explain Ashworth & Perera, (2015).
- It should also be ensured on regular periods that the flapper valve is not leaking. In case of such occasions, it is necessary to:
- Drop dye or food colouring in the tank water.
- Wait for 10 minutes and see if the dye has seeped through the flapper valve into the bowl.
- In case the dye has seeped, it should be ensured that flapper valve drops after a flush.
- In case the flapper valve does not drop properly into place and the seepage continues, immediate replacement of the flapper valve should be done, as detailed by Ashworth & Perera, (2015).
- An inspection of the valves to check any worn parts should be done at least once every year. A regular flush cycle for a Flush-o-Meter toilet running 1.6-gpf or of a 1.0-gpf urinal does not exceed 4 to 5 seconds. A long flush cycle or a continuously running valve indicates a clogged bypass orifice of the valve or of an improper sealing. The flush valve insert either requires to be cleaned or replaced. A Flush-o-Meter valve includes a debris screen, which often limits the clogging of the bypass orifice. This should be checked at regular intervals to avoid malfunction of the flushing cycle, assert Baum, Baum, (2015).
- Replacement of a flush valve insert should be done with a replacement part which matches the volume specifications of the valve’s flushing capacity. A 1.6-gpf Flush-o-Meter toilet should be replaced only with a 1.6-gpf rated flush valve insert. This is very important because a different rated diaphragm, if substituted for an existing valve, may increase the flush volume and create water wastage.
- It should also be ensured that water pressure of the building meets the specification given by the manufacturer, as per Baum, Baum, (2015).
- The automatic sensors must be calibrated to ensure they are set to limit double flushing.
- Manufacturer’s guidelines given in the manual must be followed when cleaning or replacing the cartridges, sealant or other parts.
- It is essential to educate the users about the benefits of water saving and in ensuring that they do not pour water or other liquids into the fixture, as this can rinse out the sealant, as per Marshall, Williams & Morgan (ed), (2015).
TECHNOLOGIES OF FUTURE
VACUUM TOILETS IN COMMERCIAL BUILDINGS
A Vacuum Toilet System, is not only relatively quick in flushing out the materials, it is comparatively easy to install, is also great in achieving enormous water savings and most significant advantage it gives is of environmental, hygienic and economic benefits. It can be of immense benefit in populated cities, where commercial buildings have a large footfall and require a system which not only conserves the depleting water resources, it also helps in automatic control of the environment and the visitors’ hygiene, assert Marshall, Williams & Morgan (ed), (2015).
Since the cities all across the world are expanding at a fast pace, they are creating an increasing burden on the available key infrastructure resources, which not only include the depleting water supply system, it also hampers the efficiency of the waste water management, treatment and disposal. If, with the use of this futuristic technology, the authorities can encourage the use of less water. It will automatically bring down the levels of the waste water volumes which require constant treatment for reuse, as per Ashworth & Perera, (2015). Hence, in bigger commercial buildings, this vacuum sewerage systems can become an environment friendly solution.
A vacuum sewerage system, operating over 200 toilets in a high-rise commercial building, would consume just 1.2L (1/3 gallon) of water per flush as compared to the 6 to 12L (1½ – 3 gallons) of water per flush consumed by the conventional toilets. This modern technology is using a mixed solution for efficient performance by mixing the use of a vacuum system for toilets with a gravity sewerage system for other combined fixtures including the urinals and the wash basins, explain Ashworth & Perera, (2015).
The Vacuum System operates by creating a difference in the air pressure inherent between the low pressure created by the system in the suction pipe and the normal atmospheric pressure in the toilet bowl. When the toilet is flushed, the suction created by the system’s low pressure in the collection pipe draws the sewage into the collection pipe from the bowl, as per Emerald Gems (ed), (2015). For transporting the sewage, use of this low air pressure is made, whereas a very small quantity of water is used only to clean the bowl. The maintenance part is also convenient and does not require shutting down the entire system. The toilets are connected to the stacks and a single toilet can be easily isolated if it requires repair or maintenance and this does not affect the normal operation of the other toilets, says Emerald Gems (ed), (2015).
In summary, the conclusion drawn from the above discussion is that the higher prices of water in the world are forcing the governments to find alternate sources of conserving energy and natural resources. This automatically means that if the authorities encourage the choice of this new technology of vacuum sewerage system for toilets, especially in public buildings with heavy footfalls is a very sound economic option. However, it must be taken into account that like every new technology which is undergoing consistent improvisations, the requirement of a competent maintenance team is very essential along with strong support from the manufacturers and suppliers of equipment.
In Australia, the operators and managers of commercial buildings are liable for different legal requirements as compared to those required by homeowners, especially in case of matters related to waste management, as per Ashworth & Perera, (2015). Authorities maintaining the status of environment in the Australian continent have special conditions for those buildings which seek the status of Living Building and an important condition is to maintain a closed loop water system. This requires the managers of such a building to promote technology in the maintenance of the building which makes it possible for the building to fulfil its water supply needs from internal sources which are maintained on-site and all the wastewater management is also processed internally and the processed water is used internally on-site, explain Ashworth & Perera, (2015). Simultaneously meeting the regulations by the building and the water goals for the project will not only require added costs, which may include the cost of installing an external sewer connection, even if it such a connection may not be of use. Use of Composting Toilets in such commercial buildings will solve both the problems, describe Baum, Baum, (2015). Not only the cost of an external sewage connection can be avoided, such a decision will also help the management of the building in making the building eligible for the Living Building status. Apart from these two big advantages, the Composting Toilet mechanism comes with the following advantages as well as disadvantages, as per Baum, Baum, (2015).
- Water conservation
- Lower monthly water bills
- Reducing the size of wastewater collection system, can even eliminate the need of a septic system
- Producing nutrient-rich fertilizer
- A high upfront cost
- Handling of human waste
- Building management is to maintain the toilets and the compost
- Problems may occur due to odour and insects due to poor composting
APPLICATION OF AUSTRALIAN STANDARDS
AS 1428: SANITARY FACILITIES
- Specifications for toilets, bathrooms and showers
- Gradient of floors in wet areas
- Specifications for and location of fixtures, such as taps, toilet seats, flushing controls, toilet paper and towel dispensers, washbasins, mirrors, shelves, soap dispensers, clothes hanging devices, sanitary disposal units, shower screens, shower head holders and grab-rails
- Clearances to fixtures and circulation spaces
- Configuration and location of grab-rails
- Toilet Main Door operation, latching and signage
Toilets (lavatory equipment)
Toilets are tested for their performance in discharging material at full and reduced flush, leakage and splashing, physical distortion, and the endurance of inlet and outlet cistern valves.
Urinals are tested for effective flushing of urinal surfaces and splashing, while water closet and urinal flush devices are tested for flushing performance and water tightness.
GREENTAG EPD PRODUCT CATEGORY RULES (PCRS)
PCR WC: 2015 Wall and Ceiling Covering & Skirting
PCR ST: 2015 Stair Systems
PCR DS: 2014 Drainage Systems
PCR FP: 2014 Floor Covering Products
PCR WF: 2014 Window Glazing Films
PCR AS: 2014 Adhesives and Sealants
ENVIRONMENTAL PRODUCT DECLARATIONS
- global warming
- ozone depletion
- water pollution
- ozone creation
- greenhouse gas emissions
- human toxicity
- corporate social responsibility
ISO 14020 SERIES
The ISO 14020 series of standards addresses a range of different approaches to environmental labels and declarations, including eco-labels (seals of approval), self-declared environmental claims and quantified environmental information about products and services.
ISO 14020:2000 Environmental labels and declarations – General principles
ISO 14024:1999 Environmental labels and declarations
– Type I environmental labelling – Principles and procedures
ISO 14021:1999 Environmental labels and declarations
– Type II environmental labelling – Self-declared environmental claims
ISO 14025:2006 Environmental labels and declarations
– Type III environmental declarations – Principles and procedures
Type I: Ecolabels
Third party (judged by experts) – Ecolabels
Ecolabels are voluntary multi-criteria programs that assess products against set criteria and compare them with others in the same category, awarding labels to those that are environmentally preferable through their life cycle
Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA): www.geca.org.au/
Eco-specifier Green Tag TM: www.globalgreentag.com/
Type II: self-declarations
Self-declared environmental claims
Informative – must avoid ‘greenwash’
Not independently verified
ACCC (2011) Green marketing and the Trade Practices Act:
- be honest and truthful
- detail the specific part of the product or process it is referring to use language which the average member of the public can understand
- explain the significance of the benefit be able to be substantiate the claim.
Type III: EPDs
Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) – a report card
- Based on independently verified life cycle assessment (LCA) data, life cycle inventory analysis (LCI) data or information modules and additional environmental information
- Developed using predetermined parameters
- Administered by a programme operator, e.g. company or a group of companies, industrial sector or trade association, public authorities or agencies, or an independent scientific body or other organization
- The product is not judged – purchasers must do this
Eco-specifier Green Tag EPDs: www.globalgreentag.com/
LIST OF REFERENCES
Ashworth, A. and Perera, S. 2015, Cost Studies of Buildings, 6th ed. Routledge, Oxon.
Barnes, R. and Doidge, G. 2010, Managing Your Investment Property: The Essential Guide to Property Management in Australia and New Zealand. John Wiley & Sons, Milton, QLD.
Baum, A. and Baum, Prof A. 2015, Real Estate Investment: A Strategic Approach, 3rd ed. Routledge, Oxon.
Christensen, S. and Duncan, W.D. 2004, Professional Liability and Property Transactions. Federation Press, Annandale, NSW.
Davis, T. 2007, The Real Estate Developer’s Handbook: How to Set Up, Operate, and Manage a Financially Successful Real Estate Development. Atlantic Publishing Company, Ocala, FL.
Emerald Gems (ed). 2015, Built Environment and Property Management: A Focus on Australia. Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley.
Hinkel, D. F. 2010, Practical Real Estate Law, 6th ed. Cengage Learning, Boca Raton, FL.
Luck, G. W., Race, D. and Black, R. (ed.). 2010, Demographic Change in Australia’s Rural Landscapes: Implications for Society and the Environment. Springer, Collingwood, VIC.
Marshall, A., Williams, N. and Morgan, J. (ed). 2015, Land of Sweeping Plains: Managing and Restoring the Native Grasslands of South-eastern Australia. Csiro Publishing, Clayton South, VIC.
McFarlane, B., Hopkins, N. and Nield, S. 2012, Land Law: Text, Cases, and Materials. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Spoehr, J. (ed). 2009, State of South Australia: From Crisis to Prosperity? Wakefield Press, Kent Town.
Tomlinson, R. (ed.). 2012, Australia’s Unintended Cities: The Impact of Housing on Urban Development. Csiro Publishing, Collingwood, VIC.
 See Figure-01 & 02 in Annexure
 As per Code of Practice under Section 47(2)(j) and Regulation 5 of the Public and Environmental Health Act, 1987.
 Caroma; Dorf; Clark; Stylus; Fowler; Roca; Kohler; Coway; Hyundai
 See Standard Specifications at the end of the paper
 See Figure-03 in Annexure
 See Figure-04 in Annexure