New toilets flush to save campus water

Assistant News Editor

Following a recent trend of corporations and colleges across the country, a group of Pepperdine officials have been quietly implementing environmentally friendly policies into the campus’s day-to-day operations. Though students may not notice every difference, the staff at Facilities Management & Planning (FMP) knows their efforts to make the Malibu campus “green” can significantly decrease the school’s local and global impact.

FM&P is doing its part to conserve water by systematically replacing old toilets in the residential halls and academic buildings with “dual flush,” environmentally conscious ones.

These water-saving toilets have been sprouting up in bathrooms across campus for the past eight years.

“It’s been an ongoing project and there’s still quite a lot of them that need to be replaced,” said Frank Villasenor, manager of custodial and residential services.

Dual flush toilets have two flush buttons, one for solids that uses 1.6 gallons of water and one for liquids that uses just 0.8 gallons. FM&P employees install them whenever they replace a toilet, Villasenor said, and also sometimes during the summer months.

Junior Sara Ward said she saw these dual flush toilets in European buildings last year when she studied abroad in London and Florence.

“I love the concept of the dual flush toilet,” Ward said. “I think it’s a great idea, and it‘s win-win for everyone.”

Another water-saving fixture that could make its way to Pepperdine is the waterless urinal, said Les Thomas, manager of Energy Services. Thomas first learned about the device at an energy use seminar at California State University, Northridge. His department began researching and testing waterless urinals on campus after learning about their environmental and economic benefits, including saving water, eliminating waste of batteries from automatic urinals and reducing water damage on pipes.

In a high volume area, Thomas said a regular flushing urinal uses about 40,000 gallons of water per year.

“It would be a significant savings,” Thomas said. 

“It’s important for us to do our part.”

Thomas hopes waterless urinals could appear in men’s bathrooms all over campus within the next few years.

Doing their part also includes using reclaimed water, which is recycled from Pepperdine’s sewer system, to irrigate the campus landscaping. Another outdoor project will re-vegetate the Drescher Graduate Campus mountainside with plants native to the Santa Monica Mountains, which will require no artificial irrigation.

Inside the campus buildings, the FMP custodial staff uses primarily “green” cleaning solutions, Villasenor said. He is also looking into switching to microfiber mops, which will use less water cleaning solution than regular mops.

Dr. Chris Doran, who teaches a class about Christianity and ecology, said Pepperdine does a good job with its water conservation programs, but leaves room for improvement in conserving energy and paper products. He thinks an environmentally friendly policy fits the Christian mission of the university well.

“I think Pepperdine’s wonderful affirmation of faith fits right in with Christians caring for creation and the distribution of natural resources,” Doran said.