There is no conversation more boring than the one where everybody agrees.
Volume 73 | Issue 3
May 2005

ACUI Procure News: Products that make environmental sense and cents 

The University Student Union at California State University-Northridge is leading the way toward hands-free, environmentally sound bathrooms on college campuses. Based on a state-wide initiative and campus-wide sentiment, the union "went green" including the installation of C&L Supply Company's Waterless No-Flush urinals and Excel Dryer hand-dryers, purchased through ACUI Procure.

The 30 bathrooms in the union building now use only biodegradable toilet paper and no paper towels at all. Additionally, the union has significantly cut back on overall energy use by replacing electrical water heaters with natural gas, connecting directly to an existing central plant at the union. It uses only efficient lighting such as energy watt and compact fluorescents, eliminating incandescent lamps wherever possible. And, all systems in the building--including air conditioning and lighting--are monitored electronically via photo and motion sensors.

In a part of the American landscape once dominated by arid desert, the now densely populated region also has had to find new ways to preserve its important water resources. Therefore, California has a sewer tax on all domestic water, accounting for a major expense to the union. The union facilities staff decided it needed to look at ways to reduce these costs. It started by testing waterless urinal systems to save water in the union men's rooms, and agreed the Waterless No-Flush urinals from C&L Supply Company were the best combination of aesthetics, ease of maintenance, and value. These urinals work by draining fluid and trapping odors beneath a special sealant poured into a small cartridge below the drain. The cartridge traps and filters out sediment, allowing an unobstructed flow of liquid down the drain without wasting water. Once installed, the Waterless urinals alone accounted for a 35 percent reduction (around a million gallons per year) in domestic water intake that saved the union between $10,000 and $15,000 a year, depending on the annual cost of water.

The union staff was pleased by the results and immediately started looking into other green fixtures. Hands-free faucets with automatic shut-off, automatic soap dispensers, and automatic flush toilets were installed in all 30 restrooms. The automatic fixtures provided a more sanitary touch-free environment, as well as limiting the amount of water and soap product used.

The next step was to look at reducing the $21,000 spent annually on paper towels, installation labor, and trash-hauling fees. In addition to the expense of paper towels, the environmental impact of their manufacture is significant: to make one ton of recycled paper uses 7,000 gallons of water, 360 gallons of oil, 158 million BTUs of energy, and releases 86 pounds of pollutants into the atmosphere. Enter the XLERATOR hand dryer. Researchers at Excel Dryer found that water clings to skin both as a thin film and as loose droplets. Instead of trying to evaporate the droplets, XLERATOR blows them off using a focused high-velocity air stream and a specially designed nozzle. The high-velocity air also breaks up the layer of water vapor between the air and the skin. This causes the thin water film to evaporate more quickly than it would using a conventional dryer. Thus, it dries hands in about 15 seconds and uses 80 percent less energy than other dryers.

The cost of installing the urinals and dryers in the union added up to about $24,900 total (all installation was done in-house with a fixed overhead). The union staff now estimates that the XLERATOR and Waterless No-Flush urinals save more than $30,000 every year--money that used to be spent on water, paper towels, and associated labor and disposal fees.

For more information about these and other "green" products available through ACUI Procure, please e-mail acuisave@acui.org or call (812) 855-4208. For information on the California State University-Northridge project, please contact Gary Homesley, assistant director for facilities and maintenance at gary.homesley@csun.edu or (818) 677-3627.