The water efficiency of visitor toilets is an important issue for the National Trust as many NT properties are either on a private water supply or have their own sewage treatment facilities, which can make it hard to meet the demands placed upon them by the sheer volume of visitors.
Tamzin Phillips, Environmental Practices Adviser for the National Trust has, for a number of years, been recommending the specification of low water-use WCs at a number of NT properties. In particular, the ES4 WC (developed by water conservation specialists Elemental Solutions and supplied by Green Building Store) has been specified for toilet blocks at NT properties including Chartwell House in Kent, The Vyne in Hampshire and Hatfield Forest Visitor Centre in Essex. The ES4’s ultra-low flush volume of 4.5 litres (NB the new ES4 model flushes at 4 litres) offered massive savings over conventional WCs and putting considerably less strain on NT private water supplies or sewage systems, such as cesspits, septic tanks and reed beds. The low water use can also be invaluable in situations where there is low water pressure and where conventional WCs are slow to refill.
Tamzin has been impressed with the water savings offered by the ES4 WCs. Indeed, it has been recommended in the Best Practice Guide for Visitor Toilets that Tamzin has developed for NT properties. She says that one of the advantages for specifiers of the ES4 range is their conventional appearance – they do not appear particularly eco and so those using them are unaware of their being at all different. She thinks that ultra-efficient WCs like the ES4 should become the norm in places with large visitor turnaround, such as motorway service stations. Others must agree with this, the toilet block at Chartwell House received a British Toilet Association ‘Loo of the Year’ award in 1998.
Chartwell House, Kent: New toilet block – 12 ES4 WCs
The Vyne, Hampshire: New toilet block – 8 ES4 WCs
Hatfield Forest Visitor Centre, Essex: Toilet block – 11 ES4 WCs
Case study: 2004