Case Study: The Cost Benefit of Flushless Urinals

waterless.jpgThe first in what we hope to be a long list of MBA business case studies is one I helped lead recently on the financial benefits of flushless urinals. It’s a topic that most people think is rather funny at first, but one that has suprisingly positive environmental as well as financial ramifications.
Basically, my collegues (Kathryn Zender and Steve Kropfl) and I examined an existing facility – the Kaiser Permanente French Campus in San Francisco, and assessed their current water use costs. We then came up with a proposal showing how those costs would change if flushless urinals were installed (minus installation and maintenence). As you might expect, even our most pessimistic projection still turned out to have a positive ROI.

A distilled PDF showcasing the findings of the project  and a PDF version of the spreadsheet showing caclulations is available.  Please contact us for more info.
ED NOTE: I got a note from Jim Allen at Sloan Valve today who helped clear up some pricing issues. Getting accurate pricing information was really difficult when we did this project, so we essentially took the highest price we could find which happened to be a Sloan product. It turns out their products are much less costly, which actually only adds to the positive ROI, but for clarity, here’s Jim’s note:
Just a quick note – first of all, great job on your study. Very good information and well presented. One thing which I was compelled to comment on was the price of the Sloan WES 1000 unit. You have in your findings that this $471.58 and the Falcon F-2000 at $230. I understand how this mistake can be made given our published price sheet is a “distributor” sheet and is not an actual end user cost, let me briefly explain. Sloan has, actually the whole established plumbing industry, a discounting structure that defies common sense. We publish a list price and it is understood by the distributor what his net pricing will be. If you got the price off the internet, this is the worst pricing of all – they simply use our list price. The list price is NOT a Suggested Retail Price as the name would imply. I apologize for this unfortunate fact of our industry. I am working on a more “end user” focused sheet that shows a more realistic pricing structure. Rest assured, the Sloan waterfree urinal is competitive in price with the Falcon unit – the Sloan WES 2000 is in fact a perfect choice for Kaiser Permanente and because Sloan is a 100 year old national brand, we have the name you can trust to ensure that the product will be supported for decades to come.
Also, you refer to the trap as a siphon when in fact it is simply a non-mechanical, engineered, trap way seal. There is no siphon involved – just as a point of clarity.
Sorry for the confusion, Please contact me if I can be of any further assistance.
Best regards,
Jim Allen LEED AP

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of has grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.

3 responses

  1. What’s everybody smoking? First let’s call it what it really is, it’s not vegetable oil that you mix in your salad! This waterless urinal cartridge contains a Blue “Liquid Chemical Seal” with a specific gravity lighter than water, it floats. It was intended to suppress odor and it works, providing you change it every month or the stench is unbearable. I know because our custodian was dump enough to have six of them installed at our facility. The reason the cartridge needs to be replaced is because in Fluids Dynamics ,fluids don’t compress. When you introduce a continuous stream of urine into a small cartridge, the chemical sealant becomes turbulent and mixes with the urinal while expanding rapidly. It has no place to go but down the drain and eventually collects at the water reclamation center.
    This is the reason for constantly changing those cartridges, it can get very expensive. The company said the Liquid Chemical Sealant, is Bio-Degradable, it’s a misnomer! It’s only Bio-degradable after a major undertaking to remove it from the holding tanks because it floats. It needs to be physically removed in protective clothing and truck away into approve hazard containers to Bio-degrade. In a major rain fall the water reclamation center can’t process the additional fluids, so the Liquid Chemical Sealant along with other chemicals gets dump into the ocean or our waterways, causing a Dead Zone. The other issue is the plastic cartridge, there marked recyclable. Those used cartridges are pilling up by the hundreds at our land fill, who in the right mind would pick up one of those stinking and bacteria infested cartridge to recycle .10 cents worth of plastic? And you’re telling me this is good for the environment?….Wake up and think again!

  2. I am looking at these units for my facility, but I am also considering low flow urinals instead. The financial savins is actually greater with extreme low flow. Can anyone tell me… we need to have these cartridges picked up by a biohazardous waste management company? If so, I’m not sure of the benefit……

  3. I am a final year civil engineering students at University of the West Indies (UWI) and I am undertaking a project on no-flush urinals; “the feasibility study into the introduction of no-flush urinal at my campus.”

    I came across some info online which led to you (@Nick) in that you have done a similar project.

    I am in great need of information as to how you went about with the project. please email me ( information which will guide me. or better yet a draft copy of your report so that I will have some data for comparison especially in my literature review.

    Thank you.
    Awaiting to hear from you


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