Water is one of the most significant elements when it comes to sustainability. Much of the drought ridden west of the United States must deal with severe shortage of water supplies. As Americans, we have grown accustom to seemingly unlimited water at our disposal. Most Americans have cheap and clean water as a given utility in a household. Because of this, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the average American uses 78 a day. For those who live in a suburban house (most of us), the average increases to over 100 gallons a day.
Needless to say, these lifestyles are not sustainable. In an age of climate change and unpredictable severe weather, the need to conserve water has never been greater. And need is the greatest catalyst for ingenuity.
Many techniques have come to offset the amounts of water unknowingly used by the unwary. The bathroom, as expected, is the largest consumer of our water. Showers use on average 2.5 gallons per minute while turned on. A bathroom faucet on average (depending of pressure) uses two gallons per minute. Standard toilets today use 1.6 gallons per flush, while models over ten years old use 3.5 to 7 gallons per flush. My favorite technique that is becoming increasingly common in my home of California is waterless urinals. These efficient and environmentally friendly commodes rid unnecessary water and utilize gravity to bring the dispensed liquid away. A special chemical solution is used to keep odors away. NBC Universal has recently began a sustainability campaign called “Green is Universal.” They have replaced all urinals in their facilities and theme parks with waterless ones. In heavily trafficked areas, over 40,000 gallons of water can be saved annually per urinal. Every gallon is critical in reducing water consumption especially in Southern California. Other developments, notably 4 Times Square in New York, lead by example by using low-use water fixtures as well. All government buildings in the State of Arizona must be retrofitted with waterless urinals from a bill passed not too long ago.
Environmental Protection Agency: https://www3.epa.gov/watersense/pubs/indoor.html
Urban Sustainability at the Building and Site Scale: https://us130urbansustainability.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/case-studies.pdf
Photo from Creative Commons: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:London_urinal.jpg