Legislature limits toilet gallons per flush, and why hotels shouldn't be afraid

Jan. 1, 2014, marked an inflection point in plumbing legislation. Texas and California joined Georgia and New York City in mandating a limit of 1.28 gallons per flush (GPF) for toilet fixtures. In essence, this legislation prohibited the installation of 1.6-GPF toilets. More importantly, it underscored the importance of water conservation for the economy and environment: A single 1.28-GPF toilet fixture can save around $120 in utility costs and 14,000 gallons of water over its lifetime, compared to a 1.6-GPF toilet.

Despite these advantages, the adoption of 1.28-GPF toilet fixtures has been relatively slow prior to this wave of legislation. Perhaps hotel managers remembered the headaches that ensued after legislation in 1994, when the federal government banned 3.5-GPF toilets in favor of 1.6-GPF fixtures. Early 1.6-GPF toilets had terrible flushing performance.

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So, why are we confident that 1.28-GPF toilets won’t cause similar problems, despite even lower water limits? What changed?

After the 1994 legislation, toilet manufacturers initially put very little design investment into 1.6-GPF toilets. While some manufacturers invested in design and created products that flushed well, most simply cut the water line, causing performance to suffer. This gave companies like TOTO, which was already producing high-efficiency toilets for the Asian market, a significant advantage. The use of pressure-assist toilets also rose sharply despite higher cost and more expensive repair.

Manufacturers learned from their mistakes and invested heavily in 1.28-GPF technology. With changes to bowl and tank design, most notably installation of 3-inch flappers to bolster performance despite lower water usage, they sought to produce more efficient, effective models. And it worked.

MaP testing (third-party flush performance evaluation) shows that many 1.28-GPF fixtures perform better than their 1.6-GPF counterparts. For example, the American Standard Champion Pro toilet garners the highest MaP score with a 1,000-gram flushing performance. It’s able to flush a bucket of golf balls (although we don’t recommend trying that!). This improvement in performance has infiltrated the entire industry.

What should hospitality property managers look for in a toilet? We recommend 1.28-GPF models with better performance and water savings that improve ROI, an antimicrobial glaze and modern design. You won’t be disappointed.

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