Going green has gained some popularity of the past couple of years within the multifamily industry- and for good reason.
Installing low flow, water saving devices decreases the consumption of water on property and also provides an element of consistency and upgraded equipment on your apartment community. Sometimes though, certain low flow, water saving devices can do more harm than good.
Let’s consider specifically for the sake of this article, toilet replacement programs. For those of you who are not familiar, conservation programs exist (yes we do these as well) that basically rip out all toilets currently installed on your apartment property and replace them with (hopefully) new lower GPF (gallons per flush) toilets. These programs are great and can bring tremendous value to the property their implemented on…if they’re done correctly. Different counties and cities across the United States offer rebate programs to multifamily communities to incentivize the installation of new toilets to promote a lowered consumption of water on site. For example: https://www.epa.gov/watersense/rebate-finder Point is, multifamily communities can qualify for programs that will provide free toilets if they’re label deems them “more efficient” than those currently installed on site. Here’s the problem. These programs do not take into account a few very key factors when deciding whether or not to approve you for the free toilets. 1. What is the “style” of your property? 2. What does your natural environment look like? Ok yes I realize those questions probably just threw you for a loop. Bear with me- I will do my best to explain.
1. What is the “style” of your property. This is important for one reason- gravity. Depending on the actual structure of your apartment community, the efficiency of the toilets you’re getting for free is going to vary. Let’s take for example two different communities, a high rise and a garden style apartment property. One community has gravity helping it out, the other not so much. This matters because without the additional help from our friend gravity, the toilets inside your units are going to be relying 100% on themselves to be able to create enough pressure inside the tanks to push waste through your sewer lines. This is important because what deems low GPF toilets efficient is their minimal water usage. Minimal water usage means that pressure inside of the toilet tank is going to have to come from somewhere else (as it naturally is created from the excess water in the tank forcing the stopper shut when a flush is complete), and unless it’s created with some sort of device inside the tank- it’s not going to exist. So here’s the problem.
Rebate programs aren’t doing an in depth site survey and analysis to figure out if the free toilets their handing out are going to actually work on your property. If you’ve got an apartment complex built in 1980, garden style in Houston, Texas and you rip out all of your old toilets and install new ones with baby tanks and no pressure creating device- you’re about to step into a whole new mess: Sewage backups, clogged pipes, toilet backups- oh my!
2. What does your natural environment look like? This explanation is a bit shorter as it piggy backs off of #1. If you’re in a hilly environment- gravity is going to play to your advantage more so than if you’re in the middle of a flat plain. Garden style properties in a hilly location versus garden style properties in a place like Houston probably have a higher success rate with a toilet rebate program. Point is people- free stuff is great. But make sure free stuff is actually helping your property and not causing more damage. There are plenty of toilets out there that are upgrades for properties that don’t have their natural environment help them out that create the appropriate amount of pressure in the tank. Rebate programs don’t always hand out those toilets! Be aware of your property’s needs!