The environmentally-friendly ‘eco toilet’ opened at Perth Zoo in August 2010 demonstrating the principles of ecologically sustainable design. The toilet facilities, located near the Nocturnal House, incorporate sustainability into every aspect of its design, and is proudly sponsored by the Water Corporation.
How can a toilet facility be sustainable?
The location of the facilities means that the Eco-toilet is traditionally plumbed and Perth Zoo has taken advantage of the latest technologies in low-flush toilets, waterless urinals and water-saving devices to ensure water use is minimised.
- Around 76,000 litres of water is collected each year in the six heavy-duty rainwater tanks to use as flushing water
- Ceilings with opaque, air-insulated roof panels provide passive lighting and insulation
- A solar thermal system heats water for the basins and no hot air blowers are used
How is it powered?
The Eco-toilet uses very little energy and is offset by two state-of-the-art alternative and free power sources; Photovoltaic cells and a wind turbine which convert energy from the sun and wind into traditional power.
The primary toilet facilities are not artificially heated or cooled. Instead the high ceilings, thick planting and open floors provide good airflow and ventilation in summer but will be screened from the elements in winter.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
The Eco-toilet’s designers, Chindarsi Architects, specialise in environmentally-sensitive designs. They selected materials to minimise the environmental impact of the construction and to minimise the off-cuts and wastage.
- The concrete blocks used to create the walls have a significantly reduced embodied energy than traditional brick equivalents because they are poured and not kiln fired.
- The concrete floor is filled with recycled material. Using concrete instead of traditional tiles requires less water and cleaning products letting the water run straight into the garden.
- The roof battens and trim have been created using a super-strong timber substitute which is made from recycled plastic and wood flour. Other timbers were either recycled or selected from sustainable mills.
- Even the pathways are made of recycled rubber tyres.
- Some of the Giant Bamboo that grew on the site remains and new, thick, beautiful gardens have been planted to help cool the facility in summer and create a tropical jungle feel.
- Plants that were removed to make way for the construction were relocated within the Zoo, used as fodder for our bamboo-eating animals or recycled into mulch.
What can you do?
The eco-toilet is a great example of some of the many ways people can live and build sustainably. Take action and find out other ways you can live sustainably:
- Look out for the eco-toilet on your next visit to Perth Zoo to learn more about sustainability and and see how many sustainability materials you can identify.
- Buy re-used and recycle. Find out ways you can buy or use products that have either been used before or are made up of recycled parts.
- Create a waterwise garden. There are many ways to plan and maintain your garden so that it uses less water and looks great. Simple steps like choosing waterwise plants that are adapted to our climate, improving your soil before planting and mulching your garden will help you save water. For more gardening tips visit watercorporation.com.au.
- For more information on how to ‘live greener’ visit the Australian Government’s website www.livinggreener.gov.au.
Thank you to the Water Corporation for their sponsorship and support of this much-needed new facility which showcases the Waterwise principles.