The toilets in the two bathrooms of the Environmental Center look normal enough.
Take a few steps closer and you’ll see that there are a few differences. First off, you’ll notice that the toilet is plugged in. Secondly, you’ll probably see that there is no handle to flush it, but instead a single button on top. And when you follow the directions (posted on signage above the toilet) to flush before and afterwards, you may be surprised to see bubbling foaming down from the top of the toilet bowl.
The “black water” solids and liquids are collecting in two storage containers in the basement. Solids go to the composting bin to the left and wood shavings are mixed in weekly to facilitate the composting process. The floor of the container is on an incline and ver the course of about 3 years the waste will compost into essentially soil – with the fully-composted material shifting to the front of the bin for easy removal. We are in the process of determining where this rich material will be taken. (Read the 2019 update on where the composted material has been land applied and other fun facts!)
The liquid waste is siphoned off into a large cylindrical tank in the mechanical room and, in line with current Massachusetts regulations, when filled up, is taken to the local waste water treatment plant.
For more info about the building, visit the Env Center’s homepage and the menu of posts about other unique building features.