In this ‘insights from industry’, Richard Sang, Director of Government Affairs at Falcon Waterfree Technologies, talks to Gary Thomas about the environmental benefits of water-free urinals.
GT: Could you please provide a brief introduction to the industry that Falcon Waterfree Technologies works within and outline the key drivers?
RS: Falcon operates in the plumbing fixture industry and offers the most efficient waterless urinals for both retrofit and new construction. The key reasons for choosing our product are reduced maintenance costs, reduced water and sewage costs, energy savings, and improved restroom hygiene.
GT: Could you please give a brief overview of Falcon Waterfree Technologies?
RS: Founded in 2000, Los Angeles-based Falcon Waterfree Technologies is the leader in the waterless urinals market. We have manufacturing facilities in 7 countries and offices and affiliates in more than 50 nations. Falcon Waterfree products are in use worldwide in stadiums, arenas, schools, universities, airports and every type of commercial and institutional facility. Falcon is privately owned by Mapleton Investments and Capricorn Investment Group.
GT: How does your waterless urinal work?
RS: Waterless urinals may look similar to regular flush urinals, but they use no water and have no flush valves. The waterless urinal fixtures are made of non-porous vitreous china or stainless steel and use a patented cartridge that locks into the urinal base. The cartridge at the base of the bowl contains a built-in P-trap (which provides the 2-inch liquid column required by plumbing codes) and a layer of sealant. This sealant layer is less dense than urine and allows the urine to pass through the sealant, thereby blocking odor and trapping uric sediment inside the cartridge while allowing urine to flow to the sewer line.
Maintenance on waterless urinals is different than that required of flush urinals, but it is NOT difficult at all. All that is required is routine daily spray-and-wipe cleaning of each fixture and occasionally replacing the cartridge, which you will know to do when the blue sealant seeps through the top of the cartridge. Typically a cartridge will lasts about 7,000 uses, depending on frequency of use.
By installing Falcon Waterfree urinals, customers eliminate 100% of their water costs otherwise required for – and all of the added sewage costs associated with – regular flush urinals. Not only are costs savings involved, but also there are significant energy and maintenance savings. There are no flush valves to maintain and no additional cost to supply water to a waterless urinal. In fact, the energy savings alone are substantial enough for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) to award facilities up to 13% of LEED points just by installing waterless urinals.
Water-free urinals installed at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, CA
GT: How is Falcon Waterfree Technologies unique in this sector?
RS: Falcon Waterfree Technologies is unique because of the amount of time and effort that we spend on research and development to produce high quality and code-compliant products. Other brands of waterless urinals exist, but Falcon remains at the forefront of engineering and product improvements to remain the market leader. Examples of our improvements include both the new C1M2+Cartridge that eliminates odor, prevents wash out of sealant, and further reduces maintenance, as well as our pipe-in-pipe technology that ensures proper pipe slope when installing the urinals.
GT: What are the key environmental benefits of using water free urinals?
RS: The key environmental benefit of using waterless urinals is the amount of fresh water saved, the amount of sewage eliminated, and the significant amount of energy saved and carbon emissions avoided. Each waterless urinal saves an average of up to 40,000 gallons or more of water per year. If water isn’t coming in, then less sewage is created. Because there is no need to transport or convey water to or from a waterless urinal, each waterless urinal also reduced about 720 lbs. of CO2 emissions annually.
GT: Why is there such a need to conserve water in the future?
RS: Less than 1% of the world’s water is fresh drinking water. It’s estimated that 2.2 trillion gallons of fresh water are unnecessarily wasted every year from flush urinals. As our world population grows, fresh water will be increasingly scarce. There is absolutely no need to flush fresh water down a urinal drain.
GT: Aside from the environmental benefits, are there other benefits, such as cost?
RS: Yes, Falcon Waterfree urinals offer many more benefits. Our urinals save 100% of the water flushed and reduce sewage costs. They are cheaper to purchase, install and maintain because they require no flush valves which regularly break. There are also many rebates across the United States to help customers purchase and install waterless urinals.
GT: Are there any hygiene and health risks associated with water free urinals?
RS: Falcon Waterfree urinals have been shown in scientific studies to be five times more hygienic than flush urinals. This is because urine is essentially sterile and odorless as it leaves the body. It is only when urine reacts with water and air that it creates an ammonia reaction, which causes odor. Also, bacteria and viruses thrive on moist surfaces. Flushing doesn’t kill bacteria or viruses; in fact, the mist created by flushing actually spreads bacteria and viruses to every surface in the restroom.
GT: Could you describe the installation procedure of these urinals? Is it possible to replace flush/low flush urinals easily?
RS: Installation of waterless urinals is simple and typically is completed within one hour per fixture, regardless of whether it is new construction or replacing an old flush urinal. Because there are no flush valves to install, all one must do is to cap off the water supply, clean the drain lines, measure proper height, install an included hanging bracket, insert pipe-in-pipe to ensure proper slope, hang the urinal, connect the coupler to the housing, install the cartridge, and caulk around the edges of the urinal. That’s it!
GT: How many products do you currently have available? Are these available worldwide?
RS: Falcon offers 7 models of differing sizes, including 6 vitreous china urinals and one stainless steel urinal, all of which are viewable at www.falconwaterfree.com. All Falcon urinals use the same cartridge and can be shipped worldwide.
GT: What does the future hold for Falcon? Do you have any further plans for products?
RS: Falcon Waterfree Technologies is always advancing and evolving. We have plans for newly designed urinals as well as products for various water conserving devices beyond urinals. We are finding new and innovative ways to incorporate waterless technologies in many different applications. Falcon is also reaching out internationally to promote and initiate water conservation programs with countries to reduce the tremendous amount of fresh water wasted by flush urinals.