Melbourne Water has become a leader in adopting vacuum toilet technology, used for the organization's recently commissioned new headquarters at 990 La Trobe Street in Melbourne.
Architects Umow Lai carried out the design work at the firm's Melbourne office, following successful application of the vacuum toilet technology in the Pixel Building. Richstone Plumbing Group carried out the installation with initial supervision by Vacuum Toilets Australia, the suppliers of the vacuum toilet system.
John Neskudla, managing director of Vacuum Toilets Australia, said “It is pleasing to see that together, Umow Lai and the Melbourne Water Authority have embraced this technology. Victoria has shown the way to all of Australia by being very progressive and willing to look at alternative solutions. This is the technology of the future, and needs to be accepted before it becomes mainstream. The Plumbing Industry Commission showed the way ahead by allowing this technology, and that is great for the future of Victoria.”
The Melbourne Water building is spread over eight floors and has eighty vacuum pans, of which eight are for use by disabled people. All branches from the risers in the building are 50 mm piping and the risers themselves are 75 mm.
“There is no need to use piping of 100 or 110 mm anymore when using vacuum toilets, and there is no need for gravity fall in any of this installed piping,” says Neskudla. “Because of the reduced pipe diameters, ceiling cavities and wall spaces can be much smaller.”
The Melbourne Water building is supplied with a Jets vacuum pump station in the basement, with two large vacuum pumps each capable of servicing the 1,100 persons using the building. A UPS system on standby allows use of the toilets in the event of a power failure.
Vacuum toilets can be placed anywhere in a design without regard to gravity fall, opening up new possibilities for excellent design. The toilets evacuate directly up into the ceiling cavity via the wall spaces.
“Because the pans evacuate vertically up," says Neskudla, "they can be placed directly above sensitive areas as restaurants and food preparation areas. The pans use 0.8 litres per flush, which gives the Melbourne Water project a 9 million litre a year saving on water consumed, and saves on waste water costs. This technology uses no intermediate tanking, so flows to the sewer are as per normal, though at a greatly reduced volume. The waste is macerated by the vacuum pumps and does not need to be 'floated' and 'pushed' by large volumes of water to make it flow down the sewer.
“The product has proven itself over more than thirty years and is supplied to the largest cruise ships in the world," says Neskudla. The Royal Australian Navy has supplied most of its vessels with Jets vacuum toilet systems, and it is time this technology came ashore.”