STUDENT UNION AT CALSTATE NORTHRIDGEMOVES AHEAD TOWARDS HANDS-FREE, ENVIRONMENTALLY-SOUNDBATHROOMS ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES by eric bassSSouthern California is almost as well known for its environmen- waterless urinals, automatic products,tal conscientiousness as it is for its frequent water shortages. In hand-dryersa part of the American landscape once dominated by arid desert, To start, Homesley and Miller tested several waterless urinal sys-the now densely populated region has had to find new ways to tems to save water in the student union men’s rooms, both agree-preserve its important water resources. The University Student ing on the Waterless No-Flush urinals (by Waterless Co., Vista,Union at California State Northridge has met this environmen- Calif.) from C&L Supply Co. (Los Angeles, Calif.). These urinalstal challenge head-on. Several of the newly-renovated Student work by draining fluid and trapping odors beneath a special sealant,Union buildings boast the most hands-free green state universi- which is poured into a small cartridge below the drain. The car-ty bathrooms in the country. tridge traps and filters out sediment, allowing an unobstructed All of the University’s Student Union renovation projects in flow of liquid down the drain without wasting water.the last decade have been undertaken with environmental The first building Homesley outfitted has 30 restrooms, 13 ofsoundness and water preservation in mind, and the energy-sav- which are men’s rooms with urinals. Once installed, the Water-ing measures have, not surprisingly, saved the University a great less urinals alone accounted for a 35 percent reduction (around adeal of money in the process. million gallons per year) in domestic water intake that saved the Gary Homesley, assistant director of facilities and mainte- university between $10-15,000 a year, depending on the annualnance at the Northridge University Student Union, says that the cost of water.environmental initiative began with the former assistant direc- Homesley was pleased at the results and immediately startedtor, Ray Miller, and they both agreed it was the logical thing to looking into other green fixtures: “Once we saw how effective thedo. “After all,” says Homesley, “in the state of California it only water-free urinals were at saving water and costs, we wondered,makes sense to be water and landfill conscious.” what next?” Plus, they knew that an environmentally-friendly (and Homesley installed hands-free faucets with automatic shut-money-saving) student union complex would be a popular sell- off, automatic soap dispensers, and automatic flush toilets in alling point for incoming students. “We’re a nonprofit organiza- 30 restrooms. The automatic fixtures provided a more sanitarytion, and this way, we let students know we care about their touch-free environment, as well as limiting the amount of watermoney. They’re very supportive of our efforts.” and soap product used. Together, Homesley and Miller discussed how best to achieve Next, Homesley decided to look at hand dryers. He wanted togreen standards and save money amidst budget cuts and other reduce the $21,000 spent annually on paper towels, installationchallenges to new development. labor and trash hauling fees. In addition to the expense of paper Reprinted with permission from the May 2005 issue of Environmental Design + Construction magazine
towels, the environmental impact of theirmanufacture is significant: to make oneton of recycled paper uses 7,000 gallonsof water, 360 gallons of oil, 158 millionBTUs of energy, and releases 86 poundsof pollutants into the atmosphere.Homesley knew that he would have tolimit paper use to achieve a truly greenbathroom. However, he was skeptical. “I’dnever liked hand dryers in the past,”Homesley said. “They never seemed towork well enough; your hands were neveractually dry after using them.” Enter the XLERATOR hand dryer.Researchers at Excel Dryer (East Long-meadow, Mass.) found that water clings toskin both as a thin film and as loosedroplets. Instead of trying to evaporatethe droplets, XLERATOR blows them offusing a focused high-velocity air streamand a specially designed nozzle. The high-velocity air also breaks up the layer ofwater vapor between the air and the skin.This causes the thin water film to evapo- The restrooms in the California State University, Northridge, Student Union utilize Waterless No-Flush urinalsrate more quickly than it would using a and XLERATOR hand dryers as part of the school’s commitment to environmental design and water conservation.conventional dryer. Thus, it dries hands inabout 15 seconds and uses 80 percent lessenergy than other dryers. “I was very property. Out of the seven present and lighting — are monitored electroni-impressed with these units,” confirms buildings comprising the complex, three cally via photo and motion sensors.Homesley. “They are the best dryers I’ve buildings boast bathrooms that incorpo- Homesley even limited much of the land-ever seen, and one of the most energy effi- rate as many environmental systems as scaping around the union building tocient units on the market. I decided to get possible. In Homesley’s view, the 30 native plants that don’t require muchrid of all of our paper towels altogether.” bathrooms in the union building are water. Homesley says that the cost of installing now 100 percent green. They use only Homesley expects that, by the end ofthe urinals and dryers added up to about biodegradable toilet paper by Georgia the fiscal year, two more buildings should$24,900 total (all installation was done in- Pacific from Grainger that features 95 be completed – and he plans to continuehouse with a fixed overhead). He started percent recycled paper with a minimum to adhere to strict green standards. “Thisseeing significant savings due to water con- of 20 percent post-consumer paper. has been a real whirlwind experience forservation within less than one year, and They use no paper towel at all. us for the past few years,” he says. “Wenow estimates that the XLERATOR and The school has significantly cut back had a lot of success retrofitting the olderWaterless No-Flush urinals save the Stu- on overall energy use. They replaced elec- buildings, once we tested and implement-dent Union more than $30,000 every year trical water heaters in the building with ed suitable products; I expect to continue– money that used to be spent on water, natural gas, connecting directly to an with this trend.” +paper towels, and associated labor and dis- existing central plant at the Studentposal fees. “The Union bathrooms generat- Union. All facilities were centralized Eric Bass is the vice president of technicaled about six tons of paper towel waste wherever possible, rather than building sales and marketing at C&L Supplyevery year,” says Homesley. “It’s remarkable new systems such as rooftop heating (www.candlsupply.com) has been servingto be able to cut that out.” units. They use only efficient lighting the engineering maintenance community for such as energy watt and compact fluores- 24 years and specializes in products thatadditional green features cents, eliminating incandescent lamps may contribute to LEED points and to theThe student union now consists of wherever possible. All systems in the sustainability of natural resources while248,000 square feet on nine acres of building — including air conditioning reducing maintenance and operational costs.