Miami Green Homes


Residential Toilets—A History And Options

The flush toilet is now ubiquitous in modern homes, and it’s hard to imagine anyone living without one. Though historical examples date back as far as the 26th century BCE, toilets as we know them weren’t invented until 1596. The first design was created for Queen Elizabeth I by her godson, Sir John Harrington, but she reportedly demurred from using it as it was too loud for her royal sensibilities.

Though the Romans were among the first to build underground sewers around 4500 BCE, there weren’t many improvements to the “hole in the ground” bathroom architecture for thousands of years. Toilet paper as we know it wasn’t even invented until 1857 (which makes for some uncomfortable musing).

Found in the Finest Castles

Though the common people wouldn’t have indoor toilets for many years, Medieval castles incorporated special rooms starting in about the 11th century CE. Built along outer walls and directly above castle moats, these toilet rooms would frequently cause unfortunate accidents resulting in wastewater accumulation.

The warning cry “Gardez l’eau!” (or “watch out for the water!”) could be heard all over Medieval Europe, and the special rooms where one did one’s business came to be called “l’eau,” which eventually became “the loo,” a term still in everyday use in the UK and former Commonwealth countries today.

The first public building in the US to have indoor plumbing was the Tremont Hotel in Boston. Its eight “water closets” were installed in 1829 by Isaiah Rogers, who would later become the Supervising Architect of the United States in 1863. Coincidence? Maybe he was just flush with luck.

Interior design incorporating toilets became increasingly common throughout the 1800s as people realized that improper sanitation could cause disease. Recommended by the medical experts of the day, flush toilets connected to underground sewer systems became a priority to legislators who began passing laws dictating their installation and use.

Inventors and engineers responded by designing “new and improved” variations, but indoor toilets were uncommon in all but the wealthiest homes until around 1840.

American Standard

As late as 1940, nearly half the houses in the US lacked an indoor flush toilet, and people still relied on the outhouse, which was little more than a rough wooden shed featuring a bench with a hole in the middle of it, built above a large pit. Thankfully, toilets are now standard in all homes, though there are many options.

The traditional round-bowl design has largely made way for more comfortable (and ADA-compliant) elongated fixtures. Both are available in economical floor-mounted or space-saving wall-hung designs. Recent innovations allow for the use of specialized fixtures and connections that bring benefits like cost savings, quieter operation, and minimized water consumption for planet-friendly bathroom visits.

Planet-Friendly Options

If you’re in Miami (or anywhere in South Florida) and you’d like to upgrade your “necessarium,” contact Sebastian Eilert Architecture to plan the bathroom of your dreams today.

Also available by email or phone, Sebastian is recognized as one of the thirty most influential sustainable design architects in the world, is US Green Building Council accredited, and would be happy to discuss ecological (and hygienic!) options like the Toto Washlet C5 or other bidets, available both as attachments or standalone fixtures.

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Solar-Powered Desalination Device Will Turn Sea Water Into Fresh Water For 400,000 People

A shipping-container hosting the world’s first zero-emissions, solar powered desalination technology is bringing clean water to rural Kenya.
— Read on www.goodnewsnetwork.org/solar-powered-desalination-plant-to-bring-clean-water-to-rural-coastal-kenya/



An Adventure Through The Afterlife Of Our Discarded Stuff In ‘Secondhand’ | On Point

The need for used items to have a secondhand life is increasing both in the U.S. and around the world. We unpack where your used, discarded and donated stuff ends up after its left your possession.
— Read on www.wbur.org/onpoint/2019/11/12/travels-through-the-afterlife-of-our-discarded-stuff-in-secondhand

Excellent and important topic!!



reuse revolution – on point animation, Greenpeace

www.instagram.com/tv/B4eb2MLFXm_/



These Sustainable Hotels Are Doing Good for Their Communities–and the World | AFAR

6 ways that hotels across the globe are investing in sustainable practices and making the world better, one step at a time.
— Read on www.afar.com/magazine/6-ways-hotels-around-the-world-are-working-to-become-more-sustainable

Sustainable architecture on the list! An important element for any “place”



How to create a Rain Barrel…

Previously mentioned in landscaping and irrigation posts, a rain barrel is a wonderful way to use some of that otherwise wasted water and reduce your potable water need for irrigation. There are some good options available for sale, but why not get creative and make it a fun weekend project to build your own piece of green building – a rain barrel.

I noticed a number of workshops for this and have myself 2 preferred sources, one of them in our backyard at the University of Florida. They have teamed up with Miami Dade County  Consumer and Water Department and are going around town to show and tell how it is done.

I recently noticed them at the Coral Gables Farmers market and at the Going Green day for the Village of Pinecrest…so keep looking for them.

Painted rain barrel

TOOLS: 

Electric Drill

  • Drill bit ½-inch to 1-inch
  • Drill bit 3/16-inch
  • Drill bit 1/8 inch
  • Jigsaw
  • Marking pen
  • Phillips screw driver
  • Pocket knife
  • Work-bench
  • Extension cord
  • Safety glasses

SUPPLIES: 

Plastic drum (55 gal. is best). Barrels that have carried food products are recommended. Some cleaning product barrels are OK after rinsing. Do NOT use petroleum or toxic chemical barrels.

The following are all PVC fittings:

  • Two-inch male adapter
  • Two-inch male slip x 3/4-inch female threaded adapter
  • 3/4-inch male threaded x 3/4-inch female threaded elbow (3/4 inch street el)
  • Four inch long 3/4-inch threaded nipple

The following can be either metal or plastic:

  • 3/4-inch female sillcock or hose bibb
  • PVC cement
  • Teflon™ tape or Teflon™ pipe joint compound
  • Silicone sealant
  • Three stainless steel sheet metal screws #10 x 3/4 inch
  • Stainless steel mesh with plastic rim kitchen strainer (4 to 6 inch diameter)

ASSEMBLY:

  1. Turn the barrel so that the end with no openings is facing up. 
  2. Fit the strainer on the end which is facing up so that it lays flat.
  3. Mark around the perimeter of the strainer, remove strainer and draw another line about ½ inch inside the perimeter line.
  4. Drill a pilot hole using the large bit just inside the inner drawn circle.
  5. Using the saber saw follow the inner circle line until the circle is removed. Remove the circle if it has fallen into the barrel. This is a good time to make sure the barrel is clean inside.
  6. Drill pilot holes in the strainer flanges and handle using the 3/16-inch bit. Place the strainer on the barrel and mark the hole locations on the barrel.
  7. Drill pilot holes in the barrel using the 1/8-inch bit.
  8. Partially screw into the strainer the #10 screws. Check to make sure the strainer holes match the barrel holes.
  9. Apply silicone sealant to the strainer rim and place the strainer into position. Tighten screws until just snug. (Pat yourself on the back, you have just completed the first part of the barrel).
  10. Place the barrel on its side. Unscrew one of the plastic filler plugs in the other end of the barrel.
  11. Apply PVC cement to the two-inch male adapter sleeve and place the two-inch male x 3/4-inch female threaded adapter inside and press together for a few seconds.
  12. Insert street el into the 3/4-inch hole of the adapter. Use teflon tape or sealant on all threaded parts 
  13. Insert 4 inch nipple into street el 
  14. Screw assembly into barrel. Four-inch nipple will work as a wrench to tighten first two fittings. 
  15. Connect water faucet to 4-inch nipple. Hand-tighten to proper position.
  16. Place barrel on level, sturdy base. Direct downspout over the strainer. (Hooray, you now have a functioning rain barrel).

Here are some more helpful hints from UF: http://miami-dade.ifas.ufl.edu/

Contact Sebastian Eilert about your green project of any size (Sebastian@SebastianEilert.com 786.556.3118)

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Water savings 101
There are many ways to save water in the house or business. Most of them have to do with habitual change and simple awareness of what we do.

To setup your home to save water by design the following are easy upgrades.

 Change your toilet to a dual flush system. What is dual flush? In essence you have two buttons to use the appropriate amount of water based on liquid or solid waste. We use significantly more liquid waste and the “half flush” reduces the water used by about 40%. This setup will reduce the amount of water you use for flushing by 40% overall. My favorite brand of dual flush is Caroma (www.CaromaUSA.com) but there are others that do the trick as well. I recommend Caroma, because they also use a different trap system that reduces the possibility of clogging.

Dual Flush Buttons

Dual Flush Buttons

If your fixture is still in good shape or you cannot spend the money on a new system, consider a retrofit kit, such as Eco Flush (www.EcoFlushToilet.com ). They range from $50 to about $80. This is the system I have installed in my house and is working very well. It takes a mere 20 minutes to switch out the old for the new and the savings will last… (it is also a great conversation starter and educator for visitors).

 The other quick fix is to replace your showerhead. I have installed 2 different ones on my house and like the head that Kohler is providing (http://www.us.kohler.com/savewater/products/residential/showerheads.htm ). It will reduce flow rate of water passing through, thus saving water every shower. If you like a higher end product, look at HansGrohe (http://www.hansgrohe-usa.com/cps/rde/xbcr//SID-3F57E8CC-B64043AF/us_en/publications/US/hg_cromaecoair_press.pdf ).

For fixtures, look for the Water Sense logo to easily identify water waving options when purchasing your new faucet of showerhead. This program by the EPA works similar like the Energy Star program.

EPA Water Sense logo

EPA Water Sense logo

Contact me with any questions or comments.

 

 

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