Greetings from Clivus Multrum!
Education plays an integral role in sustainability. With greater knowledge of our environment and awareness of the impacts of our actions we can begin to live more lightly, with the future in mind. In this issue of Natural Solution News we have two stories where Clivus Multrum composting toilet systems are being used as teaching tools to promote conservation, green building, and sustainable ideas.
Going Waterless at the University of Georgia
|The new Club Sports Facility at UGA under construction in Athens, GA
According to its mission “the University of Georgia plays an integral and unique role in the conservation and enhancement of the state's and nation's intellectual, cultural and environmental heritage.” This focus on environmental heritage is expressed in the University’s commitment to sustainability through the Office of University Architects where campus changes are planned to conserve water, reduce runoff and save energy, and the Physical Plant Division which spreads the gospel of conservation, recycling and green cleaning every day. The two groups have come together on the recent Club Sports Facility where permeable pavement, solar lighting and composting toilets combine to create a functional teaching tool.
The sports facility is in a rural area several miles outside the main campus in Athens, surrounded by the school’s agricultural fields and livestock facilities. Bringing water to the location for conventional toilets was difficult due to the area’s rural character. While investigating conventional toilets for the site, Josh Koons of Koons Environmental Design recommended, that the new facility should be waterless--an appropriate stance considering the chronic water problems in the Southeast to which the University has responded with a significant water conservation initiative. Koons, himself, became an advocate of waterless compost toilets during a talk he heard at the Greenprints Conference in Atlanta. The speaker, facilities manager of the Philip Merrill Center of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, praised the Clivus systems in his building. “If everyone could have heard him speak about composting toilets, no one would hesitate,” says Koons.
|“If everyone could have heard him speak about composting toilets, no one would hesitate,” says Koons.
Working with Koons, Clivus Multrum designed the composting toilet systems to accommodate over 100,000 annual uses. Two large composting tanks will serve the bathroom’s four Foam-flush toilets. The Foam-flush toilets use just 6 ounces of water per visit which means the systems could save well over 200,000 gallons of water each year when compared to conventional 1.6 gallon low flow toilets.
Aside from the obvious water savings that comes with using the compost toilets, the new bathroom will serve as an educational tool for the University and for students. For the university planners it’s an opportunity to learn about a technology they might employ more broadly within their sustainable design projects. It will also serve as an educational tool for students: signage will explain composting toilets to users and promote awareness of the technology. The office of the Physical Plant even plans on inviting local waste management professionals to learn about the systems. In this way, even the restrooms can fulfill the school’s motto “to teach, to serve and to inquire into the nature of things.”
The liquid end product will be sent to a small septic system—although the drain has been plumbed in such a way that it could easily be rerouted in the event the University pursues its interest in using the liquid end-product as fertilizer. It is planned that the dry compost from the Clivus systems will be used as a soil amendment on University property. But, since the compost process won’t require finished compost to be removed for several years, that teachable moment may only be available for the class of ’12, or ’13.
Living Lightly in Ontario
|One of four composting restrooms at Glen Bernard Camp in Ontario, Canada
In 2000 when Glen Bernard Camp installed it’s first Clivus Multrum composting toilets it was out of a desire to teach their campers to ’live lightly.’ Since 1922 the all-girls camp has been teaching stewardship and love of nature on the Canadian Shield in northern Ontario, and they do so today with, among other things, four composting toilet restroom buildings that serve their 250 campers and 160 staff during each session.
The Camp’s director, Jocelyn Palm, looked at her flush toilets, septic systems and leach-fields and saw a waste of water and real estate. Despite the use of low-flow toilets, the number of people at the camp and the thin rocky soil of the Canadian Shield required the area of a football field to accommodate all the waste water. According to Palm, “We thought there has to be something better than this.” After asking around to some fellow camps the Camp looked into Clivus Multrum Composting toilet systems and started the transition away from flushing. Considering that environmental stewardship is a primary part of the camp’s programming, Palm says, “Clivus met all of our needs.”
Four restroom buildings have been erected sequentially since 2000. In total there are nine medium-sized composting tanks and thirty-two waterless toilets. Each building is built into the side of a hill, strategically reducing the awareness of the basements while making them easy to access. The Clivus systems with waterless toilets save the camp nearly one hundred and twenty thousand gallons of water over the course of the summer sessions.
|According to Palm, “We thought there has to be something better than this.”
The compost toilets are used by all members of the community at Glen Bernard. Palm says that at first the girls are a bit apprehensive. “The breeze on-the-bottom-effect takes some getting used to.” But after a little time and education the girls generally prefer the composting toilets to the alternative, low flow toilets. So, of course, does Palm. She notes that they don’t clog up and that “if you take care of them, they take care of you.”
To help the campers see the connection between the toilet facilities and the camp’s educational programming, signs have been posted enumerating the green features of the restrooms, which also include solar power and vinegar-based cleaning products. The result is a low-energy, low-chemical, and no-water toilet facility.
Maintenance is performed by camp staff trained by the camp’s year round caretaker. The staff has found the maintenance quite simple. The dry compost end-product is used on ornamental plantings around the camp, though this early in the composting process there has not been much to use.
As they continue to replace flush toilets with composting systems, the camp will be able to reclaim the land that was previously sacrificed for leach fields, and reduce water use. Ms Palm has been so pleased with the Clivus Multrum composting toilet systems that she has sung their praises to her colleagues at camps across Ontario. “I really think that a hundred years from now we will back and say ’Wow! Was that ever a good idea?’” We say, why wait that long?