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Diverting waste, conserving natural resources : composting toilets for the new SUB Baker-French, Jay 2011-12-31

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UBC Social Ecological Economic Development Studies (SEEDS) Student Report  Diverting Waste, Conserving Natural Resources: Composting Toilets for the New SUB  Jay Baker-French  University of British Columbia APBI 497E August 2011  Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report”.  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  DIVERTING WASTE, CONSERVING NATURAL RESOURCES: COMPOSTING TOILETS FOR THE NEW SUB  Composting Toilets in the New SUB - Executive Summary..........................................................2 Introduction ......................................................................................................................................6 Context: the current system .............................................................................................................9 Findings..........................................................................................................................................13 Designing for sustainability: green building ..........................................................................13 Social norms: challenges and opportunities ...........................................................................16 Regulations: the current state of affairs .................................................................................18 Conclusions and Recommendations ..............................................................................................22 Appendices .....................................................................................................................................22 Appendix A: NSF Standard 41 ..............................................................................................23 Appendix B: Nutrient, pathogen and heavy metal test results for the C.K. Choi system (2007–2008) ........................................................................................................35 Appendix C: Maintenance manual for C.K. Choi Building at UBC .....................................41 Appendix D: Architect – building maintenance communications re: C.K. Choi system .............................................................................................................................48  1  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  Composting Toilets in the New SUB - Executive Summary The AMS has adopted the Lighter Footprint Strategy showing student interest in and support for the pursuit of a reduced campus environmental impact. The project of building a new SUB for UBC students presents the AMS with a significant opportunity to demonstrate this commitment on a uniquely large and high profile scale. Our management of human excreta is an area in which we can begin to replace linear, extractive, wasteful practices with ones that more closely resemble the natural cycling of nutrients and other resources in ecosystems. Composting toilets incorporated into the design and maintenance of buildings can be a facilitating infrastructure component of such an alternative excreta management system. Incorporating a composting toilet system into the new SUB would place the AMS and UBC amongst the world’s leaders in both the practice of and research on ecologically sound and beneficial excreta management and leading edge institutional sustainability practices. There is also tremendous potential for experiential education through a composting toilet system in the SUB. There are few subjects considered more taboo than human excreta and our relationship with them; yet the issues surrounding excreta management are important to sustainability and health. A composting toilet system, including promotional materials and signage, is a way to engage UBC students, faculty, staff and visitors on many levels with the issues surrounding human excreta management and environmental sustainability in general. Goals of Human Excreta Management A composting toilet system can be used to accomplish the fundamental goals of human excreta management:  Ecosystem Health: Prevention of ecosystem pollution. The end-product of the system is a concentrated, nontoxic, and environmentally stable as compared to the discharge from sewage treatment plants which are dilute, frequently toxic and environmentally active. Completion of the human nutrient cycle by reuse of treated excreta in food production systems.  Human Health: elimination of the disease potential of excreta. The composting process creates an environment foreign to pathogenic organisms which are therefore eliminated as a result of unsuitable temperatures and competition by other organism better suited to life in compost.  Psychological: elimination of disgust generated by excreta. Composting and system design eliminate odors; sightline can be minimized by system design. Serious questions remain about the fate of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) in the end product of composting toilet systems. These chemicals have the potential to cause problems for human and environmental health when applied to land (in admixture with the compost). However, the situation is not better with the conventional sewage system; in fact, composting may be better at metabolizing and/or stabilizing many PPCPs than conventional wastewater treatment processes. Because the PPCP issue will be present in any excreta management system, a composting toilet system creates potential for extensive research in this area. Green Building Frameworks Composting toilet systems require no water for operation and can therefore reduce overall water consumption of a building. Green building standards such  2  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  as LEED and the Living Building Challenge recognize the ecological importance of water conservation, and therefore offer “credit” for “waste” management systems that reduce water usage. LEED. The LEED rating system document (2009) recommends “toilets connected to composting systems” to achieve Water Efficiency prerequisites and credits. A composting toilet system would reduce the blackwater (water contaminated by feces and urine) generated in the building by 100%.  The number of points possible by way of the composting toilet system is dependent on the proportion of total estimated water use that blackwater would represent for the SUB facility assuming conventional sewage connection. ● The composting toilet system would likely satisfy the prerequisite of an overall 20% reduction in water. ● From Credit 1, at least 2 points could be gained by the composting toilet system, since potable water use for sewage conveyance would be reduced by 100%. ● There are a possible two to four points from Credit 2 distributed over the range of 30% to 40% reduction of total estimated water use. ● Extra points in the “exceptional performance” category may be possible as well if the system reduces total estimated water use by more than 40%. Actual points possible will depend on building estimations that are not yet available. Living Building Challenge. As in the LEED rating system, a composting toilet system would likely be valued under the LBC’s “Water Petal,” owing to the water conservation inherent in the system. There is, however, potential for composting toilets to be valued under other of the LBC’s “petals” because of the concept of “scale jumping” which allows LBC projects to accomplish some of the prescribed functionalities by means of sharing resources and/or infrastructure with neighboring and related projects. The standard dictates that land be set aside for urban agriculture. It may be worthwhile to investigate whether there is room in the LBC to account for the agroecological benefit of the compost end product if the necessary connection to agriculture could be made. Clivus Multrum. For commercial-scale composting toilet systems, Clivus Multrum is an experienced consultant. They also design, manufacture, and maintain their own systems. An example of their work on UBC campus is the C.K. Choi Building housing the Institute for Asian Research. Installed in 1996, the system has been relatively problem-free. In addition, they have installed a large system for the Bronx Zoo in New York, which accommodates up to ½ million uses per year. They work with the design team, engineers, and architects to design and manufacture a composting toilet system specific for a given building project. Maintenance Considerations AMS should consider the increased maintenance that a composting toilet system will require when compared to a conventional sewage connection. Because UBC Custodial and UBC Building Operations would likely be responsible for maintenance of the toilet system,1 this increased requirement for management would increase AMS’s interaction with these “outside” groups. Clivus Multrum, if engaged, will likely offer maintenance services for the system. This option should be considered, at least initially, in order to train maintenance staff and develop recordkeeping and documentation for the system.  1  Andreanne Doyon. 2010. Personal communication.  3  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  Regulations BC provincial legislation does not mention composting toilets explicitly. The conventional water-based sewage system is regulated under a complex of legislation administered mainly by the Ministry of Health Services, the Health Authorities, the Ministry of Environment, and municipalities. Current legislation does not recognize on-site treatment systems as an option for contexts where the conventional water-based system is available. Even in cases where on-site (“alternative”) systems are considered, only water-based on-site systems are described. Therefore, there is very little precedent in current legislation on which to base the case for composting toilets. However, the BC Building Code allows for “Alternative Solutions” to standard requirements of the Code. An Alternative Solution requires that a qualified professional submit a design and professional statement of opinion on the alternative system. Once the proposal is accepted, the alternative system can be installed. However, UBC will likely opt to seek approval from Vancouver Coast Health (VCH) Authority before moving forward on any alternative human excreta management system because VCH can act as a provincial authority under the Health Act and shut down any systems it deems unsafe. Recommendations and Further Research Following review of an earlier version of this paper by the new SUB coordinators in early 2011, it has been decided that composting toilets will not be included in the new building. Greywater toilets will be employed in the building. The main reasons for this decision are cost and apprehension about social acceptability of the composting toilet system. Further, the logistics and legalities surrounding the use of the end-product (finished compost) remain unresolved. While composting toilets will not be used in the new SUB, there is still ample room to pursue their inclusion in future developments on UBC’s campus. The issues outlined in this report remain pressing. The following recommendations should be considered when pursuing future composting toilet projects.  Engage Clivus Multrum. They need to be involved from the beginning of the design process, since the system must be fitted to each building project. Feasibility assessment for the planned design of the new SUB – can the entire building by accommodated by composting toilets? Economic assessment for the installation of the system. Feasibility assessment in terms of maintenance requirements. An alternative scenario to consider depending on the outcomes of the above: install one or a few composting toilets as a “demonstration” of the system, rather than using them for the entire building  Begin engagement with relevant regulatory authorities: UBC Building Operations, UBC Health, Safety and Environment, and Vancouver Coastal Health Authority. An “alternative solution” will need to be drafted by the engineers, working with Clivus Multrum, and submitted to UBC Inspections for approval.  If implemented, develop a detailed life cycle plan for the system. Work with Clivus Multrum to train maintenance staff and develop a detailed maintenance plan and recordkeeping for the system. Research: what to do with the end products  4  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  pursuing regulation under the Organic Matter Recycling Regulation? connection to UBC Farm and/or other local agriculture; use in Plant Ops compost to improve nutrient quality  5  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  Introduction The purpose of this paper is to promote the adoption of new more ecologically sound attitudes and practices regarding human excreta management by the stakeholders of the new Student Union Building (SUB) at UBC. It also attempts to outline the challenges to be faced in the pursuit of sustainable sanitation. This paper focuses its exploration of sustainable sanitation options on composting toilet technologies. Although there are other technologies that potentially could be implemented in the context of sustainable sanitation, such as biogas generators and wetlands bioremediation, for example, composting most closely matches natural terrestrial systems of nutrient cycling and it complements the way we produce the majority of our food. Animals excrete their bi-products onto the soil where they are digested by a diversity of micro and macro-organisms. This digestion releases plant nutrients into the soil where they promote plant growth. Plants are eaten or eventually die and contribute carbon to the soil. Soil is built in this way. Human-mediated composting is simply a concentrated form of this natural process. Composting also yields an end product that is readily useful as an agricultural soil amendment. The majority of the food we consume comes from agriculture, so it makes sense to return what we take from the land being worked to sustain us. Indeed, many agricultural soils are in desperate need of composted organic material because we have abused them over many hundreds of years. The overall sustainability of agriculture is, of course, a question. Yet we will never reach anything resembling sustainability while we continue to take food from the soil and then neglect, in turn, to feed it. And when the great circle is followed from beginning to end, it is clear that eventually the food we nourish ourselves with is the very food that the soil needs to be nourished.  a  b  Images © Joseph C. Jenkins. (2005). The Humanure Handbook (3 rd ed.)  6  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  Figure 1 The Human Nutrient Cycle. a) Intact. b) Broken. The current method of managing human excreta, represented by the open or “broken” diagram on the right, treats excreta as waste and discards them, causing pollution, wasting their benefit to the soil, and requiring the production and application of synthetic nutrient replacements. Intact systems, represented by the closed or “intact” diagram on the left, regard excreta as valuable agricultural and ecosystem resources and reuses them in the production of food, fiber, and biomass crops, helping to create a waste-free system of human sustenance.  It is possible to achieve the fundamental Sidebar 1 Composting – the What and the How goals of conventional water-based sewage systems without high-tech, water and energy Composting in a process by which naturally occurring complex organic materials are broken down into intensive solutions required by it. For the simpler components and transformed into a stable purposes of this paper, there are three soil-like substance that is a vital component of both fundamental goals to consider: agricultural and uncultivated soils. In essence it is the From an ecological perspective, the same process that happens on the forest floor or under fundamental goal of excreta the mantle of prairie grasses: plants die and animal defecate and die and decompose, building soil mass management is two-sided:  and bringing nutrients to the surface. Composting prevention of ecosystem replicates this process in a more or less controlled pollution and environment in which relatively large amounts of  completion of the human nutrient organic materials are gathered and processed which cycle by reuse of treated excreta increases the rate of decomposition (as well as the heat generated). Composting is a metabolic biological in food production systems. process run by many species of bacteria, fungi, and From the human health perspective, invertebrates. These organisms utilize the energy and the goal is the elimination of the nutrients available in dead complex organic materials disease potential of excreta. for their own life processes and eventually convert raw materials into a finished, stable product – Psychologically, the fundamental compost. The process of natural selection plays itself goal of human excreta management out in the compost process as well: only those is the elimination of disgust organisms that are suited to life under composting generated by excreta. conditions can persist. This means that pathogens that The conventional water-based sewage thrive in the human body are not favored in a compost pile and are soon out-competed or killed by excessive system over its history has both addressed and heat. exacerbated all of these goals. It is making progress in all of these areas, but at increasing ecological, economic, and social costs. Adopting waterless on-site treatment of excreta, utilizing effective composting techniques and technologies, has the potential to accomplish all of the goals of human excreta management with many fewer of the ecological costs incurred by the current system. The most profound benefits of a composting toilet system are ecological: water and energy savings, prevention of pollution, and the potential to close the human nutrient cycle. Composting toilet systems, and decentralized systems in general, also present new challenges. Because they should only collect excreta, greater user awareness will be required to prevent contamination by non-compostable materials. Further, decentralization of processing will require an increased number of people with the ability to operate the systems safely and effectively, as compared with centralized systems that can be maintained by relatively few trained professionals in a centralized and highly controlled environment. Finally, the use of the end-product of the composting toilet system must be considered. A framework, not yet developed, for ensuring safety and facilitating and controlling agricultural re-use is required for a composting toilet system to fulfill its potential benefits.  7  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  Composting toilets are an inherently integrative technology, as they combine many of the issue areas to be addressed by sustainable sanitation: reduction of water and energy usage, nutrient recycling, and social consciousness of environmental issues. This integrative quality has benefits as well as challenges. Most often we approach excreta management in an isolated (even disciplinary) way. As long as the primary or immediate goals of excreta management are accomplished, it does not matter if the means used cause more problems somewhere else in the system. Further, social awareness of the issues surrounding excreta management is rarely if ever a goal of such approaches. Such approaches have contributed to massive overuse of water and energy, reliance on synthetic and mined sources to maintain soil fertility, and a populace that thinks it can simply flush its problems away. However, it is clear that on this planet, the principles of ecology must ultimately be respected in order to maintain dynamic equilibrium. It is possible that one of the key factors in creating a sustainable approach to excreta management is just this issue of social awareness and knowledge. Integrating knowledge into the system in an evenly disbursed way could have the beneficial effect of empowering the system’s users rather than cutting them off or allowing them to “not care”. We have the opportunity to “push the envelope” towards a society whose members know (and hence must take responsibility for) what their physical existences mean to the ecosystems that support them. Composting toilets can turn a large problem into a large benefit for our food system and environment. Large scale and potentially irreversible environmental disruptions are inevitable if disequilibrium conditions are maintained too long. Our culture’s conventional approach to human excreta management is only one in a vast array of ways in which we maintain disequilibrium with the environment. Rectifying it will not solve all of our problems, but there is certainly a great potential to step in the right direction. Further, industrialization and urbanization have radically altered both the spatial dynamics and the scale at which human-environmental issues take place. “Cottage” solutions that may work on the scale of small communities distributed fairly widely over landscapes are often infeasible in the context of urban concentration and population densities.  8  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  Context: the current system Water-based sewage systems share the history of industrialization2 and more broadly the history of urbanization. In general, humans and some other animals tend to avoid their own excrement. We can understand why: disease. In the case of humans, many (though not all) cultures have developed an attitude toward excreta such that […] the perceived ideal normative state of excreta disposal and handling is that of treating it as though it did not exist. Avoiding or denying the subject on a psychological level is considered preferable in most cultures.3 People living in densely populated cities experience both the real and perceived problems of excreta in an intensified way when compared to low-density rural living situations. Centralized, high capacity water delivery and disposal systems allow these urban people to perceive themselves as fulfilling the “normative state” regarding excreta, that is, pretending as though they do not exist, by simply flushing them away. At the advent of these systems, when flushing excreta often led directly to contamination of drinking water and the spread of disease because the systems emptied directly into nearby water sources, health outcomes did not necessarily correlate with fulfilling this “normative state”. As understanding of disease and pollution evolved, however, so too did the water-based system evolve, notably by incorporating treatment of the wastewater before discharge, to offer real health benefits to urban populations. However, the conventional water-based sewage system (CWBSS) has continued to cause multiple problems for the environment and for society. The CWBSS: o pollutes water and disrupts receiving ecosystems with excess nutrients as well as industrial chemicals, o overuses water resources, and o wastes soil resources and requires the extraction, processing, and application of replacement nutrients, all of which have adverse environmental effects. The CWBSS is generally an “all-in-one” municipal collection system – as is the case for Vancouver – collecting domestic, storm drain, and industrial wastewater streams, and it is common for pollutants from industrial production to be collected and managed by the same system. For this reason, heavy metals and persistent industrial chemicals are commonplace in sewage sludge and treated blackwater. Under current law, wastewater sludge and sludge composts are permissible soil amendments. Despite current research into nutrient and metal recovery and chemical deactivation technologies, by and large the conventional sewage system is remains an important conduit through which soil resources used to feed human populations are removed from agroecosystems and by which farmland and aquatic ecosystems are polluted and degraded. The removal of agricultural nutrients requires resource intensive synthetic fertilizers, 2  Valiente, M. 2007. Book review of The Culture of Flushing [Benidickson, J. 2007. Vancouver: UBC Press]. Available online from: http://ohlj.ca/english/documents/OHLJ_45_3_Valiante_FINAL.pdf. 3 Rosenquist, L. E. D. A psychosocial analysis of the human-sanitation nexus. Journal of Environmental Psychology 25:3(335-346).  9  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  which contribute to loss of soil biodiversity, decreased soil organic matter, and overall soil degradation processes,4 to make up the loss. Improved nutrient removal technologies have been and continue to be developed, but in general, improvement of technology in one sense or aspect simultaneously means “more costly” as well as “more resource intensive” in other components of the system5 At the same time, it has become necessary to legislate “acceptable” levels of heavy metals and other toxic industrial pollutants when applying the nutrients recovered from the conventional sewage system on agricultural land. However, from the ecosystem perspective, there is probably no acceptable level of industrial contamination of farmland or any land. Moreover, each of these problems associated with using water to flush excreta “away” almost intrinsically assumes the large-scale availability and use of energy: o polluted water must be conducted away from the site of its original use for treatment o treatment processes require energy for heating, aerating, agitating and otherwise manipulating the blackwater o treatment requires the use of resource-intensive chemicals for disinfection, nutrient removal, and other resource recovery. In the early days of the CWBSS, with smaller populations using fewer resources, there was no reason to foresee shortages of natural resources which we are experiencing today. The CWBSS exacerbates the interconnected water, energy and natural resource crises that are coming to characterize our era of history. Heavy investment in centralized sewage systems and the perceived fulfillment of the desire to disappear the excreta problem have resulted in a general focus on improving the existing system while maintaining its basic tenets. Indeed, most of us do not even know that other options exist.  4  Bulluck III, L.R., M. Brosius, G.K. Evanylo, J.B. Ristaino. 2002. Organic and synthetic fertility amendments influence soil microbial, physical and chemical properties on organic and conventional farms. Applied Soil Ecology 19:147–160. 5 Foley, J., D. D. Haas, K. Hartley, P. Lant. 2010. Comprehensive life cycle inventories of alternative wastewater treatment systems. Water Research 44(5):1654-1666.  10  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  ???  Conventional “solutions” More advanced removal technologies – bring metals below legal levels  Blackwater treatment, land application, landfill, or incineration of sludge  Sludge filtration, drinking water treatment  Discharge to water bodies  system evolution →  Pharmaceuticals in ecosystem  Heavy metals in ecosystem  Water pollution  Disease  Disgust/Disease  Pharmaceutical production & use  Heavy metals in industrial proesses  Problems with the system  Energy required  Figure 2: Evolution of the conventional water-based sewage system. This figure shows the evolution of the conventional system in response to excreta-related problems caused or left unsolved by it, as they have become apparent to society. The energy required to pursue the chosen solutions is included as well. It is not meant as a quantitative representation but as a representation of the general trend of increasing energy to achieve the required health and safety outcomes.  Perhaps it is time that as a society we ask: will water-based systems ever be sustainable? In the current discourse on “sustainability” of human systems, there is a tendency to conflate better practices, behaviors, and attitudes, when compared with the status quo, with ones that may contribute to true sustainability. Sustainability will require that the practice, behavior, and attitude changes we make create fewer and more approachable problems than those they address. There is certainly an argument to be made that the attempts thus far to rectify the CWBSS have created significant problems that may be more difficult to approach than the problems they have tried to address. New technologies developed to solve the emerging ecological and health problems associated with water-based sewage systems tend to be expensive and resource intensive, and growing populations multiply these increased costs and require expansion of treatment facilities and conveyance systems requiring significant resource usage. While new technologies may appear to be solving problems with our sewage system, the benefits must be  11  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  weighed against increased impact elsewhere in the supply chain that allows those technologies to function. Comprehensive life cycle assessments reveal increasing resource intensity even as more agriculturally valuable nutrients are recovered and less ecosystem-damaging chemicals are discharged using new technologies.6 Certainly, it is a better practice to recover nutrients and prevent discharge of dangerous chemicals than to allow waste and pollution. But if these “solutions” require pollution and resource depletion elsewhere, we enter into an ecological catch twenty-two. Perhaps it is time to rethink excreta management altogether.  6  Stokes, J. R. and A. Horvath. 2010. Supply-chain environmental effects of wastewater utilities. Environmental Research Letters 5(1).  12  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  Findings Designing for sustainability: green building AMS Lighter Footprint Strategy and Sustainability Charter The AMS has adopted the Lighter Footprint Strategy showing student interest in and support for the pursuit of reduced campus environmental impact. The project of building a new SUB for UBC students presents the AMS with the opportunity to demonstrate this commitment on a relatively large scale. Incorporating a composting toilet system in a large building such as the new SUB would place AMS amongst the world’s leaders in ecologically sound human excreta (“waste”) management systems. The ecological benefits of a non-water based system for human excreta management, including water and energy conservation and pollution prevention, will be realized continuously for the life of the building. Further, implementing such a system provides a unique opportunity for new research that will only be possible once this kind of toilet system is available for study. One of the most potentially far-reaching benefits of installing a composting toilet system is that it may one day provide a positive ecological (and agroecological) service by recycling the nutrients passed through human individuals and allowing for their safe, ecologically beneficial, and agronomically effective reuse in agricultural production. Canadian Green Building Council / LEED Canada 20097 The LEED rating system document recommends “toilets connected to composting systems” to achieve Water Efficiency prerequisites and credits. A composting toilet system would reduce the blackwater (water contaminated by feces and urine) generated in the building by 100%. The number of points possible by way of the composting toilet system is dependent on the proportion of total estimated water use that blackwater would represent for the SUB facility assuming conventional sewage connection. ● The composting toilet system would likely satisfy the prerequisite of an overall 20% reduction in water. ● From Credit 1, at least 2 points could be gained by the composting toilet system, since potable water use for sewage conveyance would be reduced by 100%. ● There are a possible two to four points from credit 2 distributed over the range of 30% to 40% reduction of total estimated water use. ● Extra points in the “exceptional performance” category may be possible as well if the system reduces total estimated water use by more than 40%. The precise proportion of total estimated water usage that blackwater would represent is unclear at this point. However, it is important to note some water-using appliances and associated activities that the LEED rating system does not consider in Water Efficiency: ● Commercial Steam Cookers ● Commercial Dishwashers ● Automatic Commercial Ice Makers ● Commercial (family –sized) Clothes Washers 7  Canada Green Building Council. 2010. LEED Canada 2009 for New Construction and Major Renovations. Available online from: http://www.cagbc.org/uploads/LEED/NC/LEED_Canada_NC_CS_2009_Rating_System-EnJun2010.pdf. Accessed 7/26/2010.  13  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  ● Residential Clothes Washers ● Standard and Compact Residential Dishwashers.8 Appliances that are counted in Water Efficiency are: ● Commercial Toilets ● Commercial Urinals ● Commercial Lavatory (Restroom) Faucets ● Commercial Showerheads ● Commercial Pre-rinse Spray Valves (for food service applications) ● Residential Toilets ● Residential Lavatory Faucets ● Residential Kitchen Faucets ● Residential Showerheads. Without building usage estimates, it is difficult to project what percentage of total water usage blackwater would represent, and therefore how much water use reduction and consequent Water Efficiency points a composting toilet system could achieve. However, food service is likely to be a large proportion of the water demand in the building and some food service-related water-using appliances are not counted in LEED Water Efficiency estimates. It is therefore possible that blackwater will represent a proportion of the SUB’s water use that would allow a composting toilet system to achieve the higher end of the points scale in the LEED Water Efficiency section. International Living Building Institute / Living Building Challenge As in the LEED rating system, a composting toilet system would likely be valued under the LBC’s “Water Petal,” owing to the water conservation inherent in the system. There is, however, potential for composting toilets to be valued under other of the LBC’s “petals” because of the concept of “scale jumping” which allows LBC projects to accomplish some of the prescribed functionalities by means of sharing resources and/or infrastructure with neighboring and related projects. Especially noteworthy in the LBC with respect to a composting toilet system at the new SUB are the urban agriculture requirements. The standard itself dictates that land be set aside for urban agriculture commensurate with the size of and inversely proportional to the density of an LBC project9. A composting toilet system has the potential to generate a more renewable, much less energy and resource-intensive soil amendment which could be used in urban and non-urban agricultural contexts. It may be worthwhile to investigate whether there is room in the LBC to account for this environmental benefit if the necessary connection to agriculture could be made. When considering waste management systems in terms of the LBC, the most important factor to keep in mind is, of course, water consumption. However, energy consumption must also be considered since LBC requires that buildings consume no energy on net. With this in mind, on-site energy-from-waste systems that utilize methane capture and reuse might appear to be a good option, but there are two problems: how to treat the conveyance water used in biogas 8  Canada Green Building Council. 2010. LEED Canada 2009 for New Construction and Major Renovations. Available online from: http://www.cagbc.org/uploads/LEED/NC/LEED_Canada_NC_CS_2009_Rating_System-EnJun2010.pdf. Accessed 7/26/2010. 9 McClennan, J. F. and E. Brukman. 2010. Living Building Challenge Standard Document 2.0. International Living Building Institute and Cascadia Green Building Council. Available online from: https://ilbi.org/lbc/StandardDocuments/LBC2-0.pdf. Accessed 6/3/2011.  14  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  systems; and the fact that according to the LBC standard, combustion of any kind is not allowed when generating energy for the building10. With these problems in mind, the very low energy and no-water composting toilet system has distinct advantages from the perspective of the LBC. A further disadvantage to methane systems is that they remove carbon from the system: it is burnt off as methane. While methane captured and used in this way displaces some need for nonrenewable natural gas, it also lowers the carbon content of any fertilizer made from the endproduct. Carbon in compost stabilizes other nutrients (e.g., nitrogen) in the soil, directly preventing their loss to erosion, and provides energy to soil biota which otherwise will be taken from the soil’s organic matter reserves, depleting them and leading to further erosion and soil degradation. Clivus Multrum As discussed, composting toilets hold the potential to benefit human relationship with the environment. Both LEED and the LBC recognize (if implicitly) the water conservation benefits of on-site composting toilet systems. This benefit goes hand in hand with the pollution prevention benefits that are inherent in no-water systems. There are the additional potential food system benefits of creating the possibility of closed-loop human nutrient cycles, reducing the costs and environmental toll associated with chemical fertilizer production and application. The next question is: how does one turn the potential into the real? How does one install and operate a composting toilet system? Clivus Multrum (www.clivusmultrum.com) is a firm based in Massachusetts, USA that specializes in just this area: designing, manufacturing, and maintaining composting toilet systems for a range of building project scales, from public parks to commercial buildings. When engaged in a commercial-scale project, they work from the beginning of the design phase with the engineers and architects to custom design a system for the building. They manufacture the composting units and fixtures specifically for the project at hand. Once installed, they offer maintenance, support, and educational services to clients for the lifetime of the composting toilet system. There is an example of Clivus Multrum’s work on UBC campus. The C.K. Choi Building, which houses the Institute of Asian Research, utilizes a Clivus Multrum composting toilet system to handle all of the excreta generated by building occupants. According to the facilities manager for the Choi Building, the system has been relatively hassle free and has not broken down over its 14 year history. Other case studies of Clivus Multrum’s work are attached in the Appendices section of this report. Further research is needed to assess the feasibility of including composting toilets into the specific project we are approaching with the new SUB. Clivus Multrum should be consulted if composting toilets are pursued further for the building.  10  McClennan, J. F. and E. Brukman. 2010. Living Building Challenge Standard Document 2.0. International Living Building Institute and Cascadia Green Building Council. Available online from: https://ilbi.org/lbc/StandardDocuments/LBC2-0.pdf. Accessed 6/3/2011.  15  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  Clivus Multrum is recognized by the United States Green Building Council and the United States General Services Administration11. Its products comply with the National Sanitation Foundation’s Standard 41, “Non-Liquid Saturated Treatment Systems”12. NSF is accredited by the Standards Council of Canada13.  Social norms: challenges and opportunities A composting toilet excreta management system, by virtue of being quite distinct from conventional human excreta management systems, will likely cause a heightened awareness of everyday excreta-related activities and practices in the using population as well as the maintenance staff. Owing to the general fecophobia (“fear of feces”; may or may not include urine) that is likely to characterize most potential users and maintainers of the system14, this heightened awareness is likely to generate negative impressions or perceptions of the system even before actual interaction with it. At the same time, a composting toilet system will require several real behavioral changes from both system users and will require new behaviors from system maintenance staff. Therefore, it will be imperative to educate both users and maintenance staff about the system and its requirements, as they differ from the conventional system being replaced, such that non-rational negative impressions are overridden and proper use and maintenance of the system, through adoption of changed behaviors suited to the new system, are assured. Addressing fecophobia: According to informal interviews with several members of the UBC community, some of the issue areas that are likely to inform negative impressions in both the user population and the maintenance staff in regards to a composting toilet system are: odors, disease-causing organisms, and final fate of the end-products. The composting toilet system is capable of treating human excreta in such a way as to achieve favorable outcomes in these issue areas. My own personal experience and personal communication with other users has shown that the composting toilet system in active use at the C.K. Choi Building, which is the most likely the type to be used in the new SUB, is not malodorous; the washrooms have no detectable odor of any kind. The Clivus Multrum system in use at C.K. Choi accomplishes the odor-free state by the use of an always-on, low-power electric ventilation system that creates negative pressure in the toilet and collection bin, removing the air to the atmosphere.15 This fan can be wired such that it will stay on during emergencies when normally all power would be off in the building.16  11  Clivus Multrum. 2011. Accreditations. Available online from: www.clivusmultrum.com/associations.php. Accessed 6/3/2011. 12 NSF International. 2011. NSF/ANSI Standard 41: Non-Liquid Saturated Treatment Systems [Clivus Multrum’s accreditation information]. Available online from: http://nsf.org/Certified/Wastewater/Listings.asp?TradeName=&Standard=041. Accessed 6/3/2011. 13 NSF International. 2011. Accreditations. Available online from: http://nsf.org/regulatory/about_regulatory/accreditations.asp. Accessed 6/3/2011. 14 Rosenquist, L. E. D. A psychosocial analysis of the human-sanitation nexus. Journal of Environmental Psychology 25:3(335-346). 15 Samodien, Greig. 2010. Personal communication. 16 See Appendix D: Choi communications.  16  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  Perceptions and Practice: Some people may use conventional toilets for purposes other than their primary intended use, that is, receiving excreta and urine. For example, women may regularly dispose of certain feminine hygiene products in the toilet. Others may deposit other non-biodegradable items in the toilet. A composting toilet system should not receive such non-biodegradable items, since they may inhibit proper function. Given this situation, implementation of a composting toilet system will require a degree of user education regarding which items must not be deposited in the toilet. Alternatively or additionally, this education could be presented positively by listing which items may be deposited in the system. The likely forum for presenting this information is inside the washroom stalls themselves, through the medium of informational posters or signs. Information might also be posted in the common space of the washroom. Additionally, the AMS could decide to “advertise” the system to some degree in the non-washroom areas of the new SUB. There is an opportunity to develop sensitive, effective, and appropriate “programming” for a composting toilet system that could be incorporated into broader sustainability endeavors in the new SUB. A composting toilet system will require a new set of practices in order to maintain its function, such as adding carbonaceous bulking materials, maintaining proper moisture levels, and emptying finished compost. (A more detailed treatment of these new practices must be developed in consultation with the system designer). At the same time, compared with a centralized system which requires only irregular repair work, a generally higher level of maintenance will be required for a composting toilet system. Lastly, when dealing with the endproduct a composting toilet system will require an increased level of interaction with other campus entities such as (potentially) Plant Operations, Health, Safety and Environment, or others. All of these maintenance-related issues and activities should be considered components of a composting toilet system.  17  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  Regulations: the current state of affairs At present, composting toilet systems are not addressed explicitly in any relevant provincial legislation. The regulatory environment relevant to human excreta management has evolved mainly in response to the dominant method of handling the issue, that is, the conventional water-based system. Even where regulations do extend into situations where using conventional system is not feasible, such as construction in remote or rural areas, the influence of the dominant system is observable: only water-based alternative systems, such as septic tanks and leach fields, are considered under current regulation17. The use of water for excreta management appears to be considered necessary for a viable system. The experience of the C.K. Choi Building bears this out: while the composting toilet system was allowed to be installed, the designers and engineers of the building were also required to make the building “sewer ready”; that is, they had to install all of the plumbing needed to connect to the conventional sewage system in addition to installing the composting toilet system. Regulatory bodies appear to be operating with a somewhat skewed version of the “Precautionary Principle,” erring on the side of the “proven” conventional system. The lack of precedent for composting toilets has so far meant little pressure on the regulatory system to evolve in such a way as to recognize and promote their benefits. Creating and extending that precedent is part of the opportunity that we have with the new SUB or with other new buildings on campus. There are distinct areas of policy in different provincial ministries and municipal departments that are relevant to excreta management in general that have coalesced to create the current regulatory system. The two broad areas of policy that are involved are human health and environmental health. Because the regulatory system for the conventional sewage system is functional, its complexity and many components are somewhat opaque and difficult to assess. However, it is important to dissect them somewhat in order to understand how a composting toilet system would “match up” with the goals prescribed by existing policies. Because composting toilets function on a significantly different scale, with a different relationship to space, and generally in a very different way, and produce end-products that are significantly different from the end product of the conventional sewage system, there is not a completely clear picture of how this system “appears” from the perspective of existing regulations. Probably the best approach is to gain an overall picture of potentially relevant legislation and then enter into negotiation with relevant authorities as issues arise during design, implementation, and system maintenance. Table 1 provides an initial overview of relevant legislation. Installing the system and running it is only one side of the issue, however. One of the goals of composting toilet systems, and sustainable sanitation in general, is to treat excreta as a resource rather than a dangerous waste product. While from a broader system perspective there is great potential to improve community health by utilizing empowering technologies such as composting toilets, for example by improving the quality of agricultural soils that support the community, the current regulatory environment focuses heavily on individual biomedical “health”, or (equivalently within the conventional arena of meanings) “absence of disease.” As such much emphasis is placed on disease potential. Currently there is a belief that “bigger is better” and that highly centralized and centrally controlled systems can ensure the absence of disease better than more disbursed, community oriented solutions. These beliefs have deep 17  According to my perusal of BC’s Sewage Systems Regulation and other relevant legislation and regulations.  18  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  connections to the many other processes of the concentration of power, knowledge, and control in our society in the hands of “experts” and powerful people. There is much to be discussed and debated in this arena, but for the purposes of this paper, it is important to recognize the extremely entrenched barriers to establishing a closed-loop food production system utilizing composting toilets or other “alternative” excreta management systems. Alternative Solutions in the B.C. Building Code While there are certainly potential barriers to implementing a composting toilet system from the regulatory viewpoint, there is also a simple allowance in the B.C. Building Code for “Alternative Solutions” to replace standard requirements in the Code. An Alternative Solution requires that a qualified professional submit a design and professional statement of opinion on an alternative system. Then, the authority responsible for inspecting the construction project reviews and approves or rejects the Alternative Solution with room for appeal. This process is almost certainly going to be required if the new SUB stakeholders decided to pursue composting toilets. It is also likely to be sufficient to allow the installation and use of the composting toilet system. According to Ed Lin18 at UBC Inspections, because a composting toilet system does not generate blackwater, it may not be subject to direct regulation by the Ministry of Health and Sport. However, according to Dr. Nick Vassos,19 a consultant at Novatec Consultants who has been involved with the wastewater system in the new Center for Interactive Research on Sustainability at UBC, the university will seek the approval of the Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) Authority before beginning any construction project that takes an approach to human excreta management that differs from the conventional sewage connection. They seek this approval because VCH can act as a provincial authority under the Health Act and unilaterally shut down any system they deem to be causing health concerns. Further research is needed to determine what this approval process would consist in for the case of composting toilets.  18 19  Lin, Ed. 2010 Personal communication. Vassos, Nick. 2010. Personal communication.  19  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  Table 1 The following table summarizes legislation that may be involved in regulation a composting toilet system. In the case of alternative systems, there is no explicit language in existing legislation that addresses their regulation; hence this table is not necessarily exhaustive and may contain legislation that turns out not to be pertinent.  Level of gov’t Federal (Canada) Acts Provincial (B.C.) Acts, Regulations and subsections  Institution Environment Canada Ministry of Environment  Ministry of Health and Sport  Regional (B.C.)  Relevant legislation Fisheries Act  Relevance to human excreta management  Environmental Management Act Organic Matter Recycling Regulation  Forbids pollution of the environment without permits granted by the Act and authorized “directors”. Provides guidelines for the creation and land application of biosolids (from wastewater treatment plants) and composts (including biosolids compost) Regulates the design and discharge quality of municipal sewerage systems.  Municipal Sewage Regulation Public Health Act Sewage Systems Regulation  Codes  B.C. Building Code B.C. Plumbing Code  Health Authorities (Vancouver Coastal Health)  Public Health Act  Contact  Regulates water quality of discharged wastewater  Regulates onsite sewage systems (waterbased) with daily flows <22,700 l. Environmental effects on human health. Standards used by engineers and architects for safety and efficiency in construction The standard for plumbing installations; does not allow for onsite treatment when the conventional sewage system is available. Gives approval for a sewage system in terms of human health; may act as a provincial authority – able to shut down any system deemed unsafe; UBC usually elects to seek their approval for all systems before 20  Linda Vanderhoek – Environmental Protection Officer –  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  building begins20 Municipal (UBC)  Plant Operations Building Inspections  (uses B.C. Building Code)  In-vessel composter  Internal Regulations  Enforces the B.C. Building Code; accepts, reviews and approves submitted Alternative Solutions Accepted the end-products of the Choi Building’s system after deeming them biologically safe with reference to the 2007 analyses21; they were mixed with the compost windrow, not put through the invessel composter because the machinery is not set up to handle fine-textured inputs  Health, Safety and Environment  20 21  ____. 2010. Personal communication. See Appendix B: Choi Building composting toilet end-product analyses  21  Ed Lin – Chief Building Official – 604 822 0481 Darren Duff – Municipal Services Manager 604 822-0439, darren.duff@ubc.ca Gary Wolfram – Waste Management Operations Head – 604 822 9619, gary.wolfram@ubc.ca  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  Conclusions and Recommendations Recommendations and Further Research Following review of an earlier version of this paper by the new SUB coordinators in early 2011, it has been decided that composting toilets will not be included in the new building. Greywater toilets will be employed in the building. The main reasons for this decision are cost and apprehension about social acceptability of the composting toilet system. Further, the logistics and legalities surrounding the use of the end-product (finished compost) remain unresolved. While composting toilets will not be used in the new SUB, there is still ample room to pursue their inclusion in future developments on UBC’s campus. The issues outlined in this report remain pressing. In the mean time, energy and resources should be focused on raising awareness and laying the groundwork for social acceptance, and even demand for, more sustainable food systems based on closed loop agriculture. In future projects, the following points should be considered in pursuing composting toilets:  Engage Clivus Multrum. They need to be involved from the beginning of the design process, since the system must be fitted to each building project. Feasibility assessment for the planned design of the new SUB – can the entire building by accommodated by composting toilets? Economic assessment for the installation of the system. Feasibility assessment in terms of maintenance requirements. An alternative scenario to consider depending on the outcomes of the above: install one or a few composting toilets as a “demonstration” of the system, rather than using them for the entire building  Begin engagement with relevant regulatory authorities: UBC Inspections, UBC Health, Safety and Environment, Vancouver Coastal Health Authority. An “alternative solution” will need to be drafted by the engineers, working with Clivus Multrum, and submitted to UBC Inspections for approval.  If implemented, develop a detailed life cycle plan for the system. Work with Clivus Multrum to train maintenance staff and develop a detailed maintenance plan and recordkeeping for the system. Research: what to do with the end products pursuing regulation under the Organic Matter Recycling Regulation? connection to UBC Farm (?) and/or other local agriculture; use in Plant Ops compost to improve nutrient quality, staff and procedures required for transporting organic matter.  Appendices [Next Page.]  22  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  Appendix A: NSF Standard 41  23  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  24  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  25  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  26  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  27  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  28  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  29  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  30  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  31  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  32  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  33  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  34  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  Appendix B: Nutrient, pathogen and heavy metal test results for the C.K. Choi system (2007–2008) B1: PSAI nutrient testing for C.K. Choi end products  35  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  Notes on Appendix B1: The organic matter composition reported by these results is interesting and somewhat problematic. They range from about 10% to 25%; but in a product composed of entirely organic solids (fecal matter and sawdust for bulking and carbon:nitrogen balancing) this percentage should be much higher. (The liquid urine component would not be counted in a dry-weight analysis). Possibly the analysis screened out un-decomposed organic materials, i.e., sawdust. When I observed the composting reactors, the product in the finishing area did appear to have a high level of un-decomposed sawdust. However, 75% to 90% un-decomposed bulking material seems quite high. While pathogen destruction may still be accomplished under these conditions owing to extended retention times, in terms of agricultural reuse of the end product such a product would not be ideal as nitrogen and other soil nutrients would be bound up with the carbon and would require extended periods of decomposition on the soil surface before being released. This situation seems to be and outcome of the design of the Clive’s Meldrum system, which allows the high-nutrient liquid urine component of the excreta input to filter through the composting mass. This process sanitizes it through the microbiological processes occurring in the compost. It is collected in a separate storage tank and can be used as a potent fertilizer. In situations where a well-rotted compost (i.e., completely mummified carbon, little remaining un-decomposed biomass, and well stocked with soil nutrients) is desired, it may make sense to reapply this strong liquid over the composting mass. The system already requires periodic additions of liquid to maintain proper composting conditions. Reapplying the strong liquid could accomplish this goal as well as improving the quality of the finished compost product in terms of physical properties (i.e., mummified versus undecomposed carbon) and chemical properties (i.e., higher levels of plant/soil nutrients). Dr. Herman warms about the high levels of sodium in the end product.  36  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  37  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  38  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  39  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  40  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  Appendix C: Maintenance manual for C.K. Choi Building at UBC  41  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  42  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  43  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  44  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  45  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  46  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  47  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  Appendix D: Architect – building maintenance communications re: C.K. Choi system D.1: re: emergency power supply to system fans  48  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  D.2: Meeting of Matsuzaki-Wright Architects with C.K. Choi building managers re: composting toilet system maintenance.  49  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  50  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  APBI 497/SEEDS  Composting Toilets for the New SUB  51  Jay Baker-French 9/27/2011  

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