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Washroom Fixtures

Navigation: Minimum Sustainable Recommendations | What are the Issues? | What are the Options? 

Did you know... Canada is in the envious situation of having one-fifth of the world's fresh water supply. Canadian water usage per capita is the second highest in the world at approximately 326 litres per day. To put this in perspective, this is double the per capita usage of France and Germany. (Environment Canada).

Minimum Sustainable Recommendations

For projects that fall within the scope of The Green Building Policy for Government of Manitoba funded projects, as well as for best practices, the following specifications should be requested:                

  • Water fixtures and fittings (toilets, urinals, showerheads and faucets) must meet or be more efficient than the Standard(s) defined in the Manitoba Green Building Program - Water Efficient Fixtures and Fittings section (where standard requirements exceed the Manitoba Plumbing Code).
    • The vendor must supply toilets that have been MaP (Maximum Performance) rated and score at least 800 under the MaP rating system.
  • Toilet fixtures in designated accessible washroom stalls must meet the following requirements:
    • The top of the toilet bowl, with the toilet seat attached must be between 17"-19" after installation to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations
    • The flush control of the toilet needs to stand no higher than 44" from the mounting surface and must be activated with less than 5lbs of force and without twisting or straining your wrists.
    • The ADA recommends a gap of at least 9" beneath the toilet and the floor and the gap should extend at least 25" in depth to allow for more foot space.
  • Faucets must meet the following accessibility requirements:
    • Faucets should be lever-operated, push, touch, or electronically controlled.
    • The faucet must be usable with one hand without the need to tightly grasp, pinch, or twist the wrist. Faucets must be activated with less than 5lbs of force and without twisting or straining your wrists.

What are the issues?

Water is one of the world’s most vital natural resources. Historically, we have taken this resource for granted. In the past, building projects only included the installation of inefficient water fixtures with little knowledge of the ecological impacts associated with high water use. As cities continue to grow and as municipal water supply systems continue to expand to meet the population demand, the sustainability issues become more evident. Inefficient use of our water resource leads to a number of sustainability issues including:                      

  • Reduced fresh water available to support healthy ecosystems.
  • Increase in water bills, and collectively creating a constant need to expand municipal water infrastructure.
  • Increase energy consumption and pollution created to pump and treat freshwater and wastewater.
  • Inefficient hot water production at the industrial, commercial and residential level requires significant amounts of energy and produces greenhouse gas emissions.

While installing high efficiency fixtures, fittings and appliances save a significant amount of water, ejecting less water through the wastewater pipe could have implications on the plumbing infrastructure connected to them. It is important to purchase fixtures that perform well with the current plumbing infrastructure.

The Accessibility for Manitobans Act and its related standards require entities to identify and prevent barriers to accessibility in operations. For a person who has a physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment, a barrier is anything that interacts with that impairment in a way that may hinder the person's full and effective participation on an equal basis. Ensuring that goods and services we procure do not create new accessibility barriers is therefore important.

What are the options?

All building projects should include water efficiency as a goal. For most commercial buildings, the bulk of the water use is associated with the washrooms, so installing water efficient fixtures has a significant effect in reducing the overall water use. Buildings constructed before the mid- 1990’s are considered to have the most inefficient water use. Old toilets and urinals use between 14 and 20 litres per flush (lpf), faucets use between 20 and 26 litres per minute (lpm) and showers use between 17 and 30 lpm.

The Green Building Policy for Government of Manitoba Funded Projects provides support for building and renovating commercial and institutional buildings to the “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for New Construction” performance standard. In this standard, performance is evaluated in five environmental categories, one of which is “Water Efficiency”. Through this rating system, efficiencies can be achieved through the use of water efficient washroom fixtures. The specifications provided in this rating system’s performance standard can be used as a best practice guideline.

Construction and renovation projects must be in compliance with applicable regulations at the municipal, provincial and federal levels. The National Building Code, Provincial Building Code and Plumbing Code support water reduction decisions. Much work is being done to synchronize water efficiency guidelines outlined in best practices and applicable building codes to further promote/make mandatory, the use of water-saving plumbing fixtures.

Through sophisticated engineering design, many water efficient fixtures function at or above the Building Code requirements. Further, because most water efficient fixtures use conventional plumbing supply and waste lines, water efficient fixtures can be easily substituted for less-efficient standard fixtures in any building. MaP (Maximum Performance) has created a rating system and scores the amount of waste that is efficiently removed. The rating is based on grams of simulated fecal matter removed completely from the fixture in a single flush. The low end of the rating system is 250 and the high end is 1000. It is recommended to purchase high efficiency toilets with a high MaP rating.


As a safeguard, request the vendor provide information ensuring water efficient fixtures will work with the buildings existing plumbing supply and waterlines.

From an accessibility perspective, the fixtures themselves should be purchased to reduce barriers. In addition to properly designing washrooms to support accessibility, part of the design must include accessible fixtures. Accessible fixtures enhance movability within limited spaces as well as reduce effort required to operate controls. 

Other things to consider

The City of Winnipeg has estimated the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the City’s water services (e.g. water distribution, water treatment and wastewater treatment) at 0.126 grams eCO2 per litre of water (City of Winnipeg, 2003).

Assuming each person in an office of 100 employees flushes the toilet 2 times per day, switching inefficient toilets that use 14 litres per flush to efficient 6 litres per flush toilets, would save 1,600 litres of water per day. Over a year, that would be a savings of 416,000 litres of water. Reducing the need for 416,000 litres of water would reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with water distribution, treatment and wastewater treatment by 52kg per year.



GHG Emissions from Water/Wastewater: The waste water coefficient was generated using 2007 City’s Water+Wastewater numbers and Corporate GHG emissions from Water/Wastewater in 2003.


Last Updated: January 2019 


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