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Restroom Retrofits Generate Savings for Atlanta Airport

December 16, 2013 - Plumbing & Restrooms

When historic drought conditions seriously threaten living conditions in a significant part of the country, institutional and commercial facilities of all kinds feel the heat.

Such was the case in Georgia in 2007, when record dry conditions — reported as the worst in more than 100 years — made for difficult living conditions in the Atlanta area. For one of the first times in U.S. history, a major city was forced to take drastic steps to keep from running out of water.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport was no exception to a state mandate that required public water system providers to reduce their use by 10 percent. In response to the conditions and the mandate, the airport began a major water-conservation initiative in early 2008 that included a significant retrofit of the airport's restrooms, which serve more than 90 million passengers a year.

As the drought eased and conditions returned to normal in 2009, the airport's water-conservation efforts continue to expand, with additional initiatives such as rainwater harvesting and low-water use landscaping, aimed at reducing energy savings 20 percent by the year 2020.

Because the water reduction request was a state mandate, the project's scope, schedule and budget were set by a state agency. A contractor hired by airlines servicing the airport to operate and maintain the passenger terminal complex handled the installation, says Tommy Davis, the project manager. The restroom retrofit had a budget of $5 million and consisted of:

  • removing 1,391 toilets with a rate of 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf) and replacing them with 1.28 gpf models
  • replacing 651 1-gallon gpf urinals with 0.5 gpf units
  • retrofitting 1,181 water faucets with flow rates between 1 gallon per minute (gpm) and 2.2 gpm with high-efficiency faucets with flow rates of 0.5 gpm.


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