Part 2: Sustainable design and the School 125 Community Plumbing Challenge

Poor sanitation, impure water and poor hygienic practices are amongst the leading causes of death and disease for millions of children in the developing world. Diseases related to lack of clean water and sanitation, despite being preventable, remain one of the most significant child health problems worldwide.

Improved plumbing facilities can actually help save lives by preventing diseases caused by poor sanitation, as well as reduce the environmental impact of sanitation facilities.  In 2015, WorldSkills Foundation enabled four global student teams and Autodesk Student Experts to come together for the Community Plumbing Challenge, creating a sustainable sanitation solution for School 125 in Nashik, India.  The Challenge focused on how to improve the quality of water use at the school. The primary team objectives were to upgrade and renovate the washing and toilet facilities, where previously the children didn’t have a reliable water supply or proper facilities.  By using sustainable design principles, the teams were able to create a clean, efficient, and environmentally friendly sanitation system for School 125.

Students created a 3D model of the school site in Autodesk Revit.  Photo courtesy of IAPMO.

The four teams came together in India to form a single team, “Team 125”, and worked with Autodesk Student Experts to iterate on their designs and ultimately design and deliver the most efficient, sustainable, and functional washing and toilet facility to the host school. The students used Autodesk software, including Fusion 360, Autodesk 360, Revit, and Showcase to rework their designs, and come up with solutions to meet School 125’s needs.  The teams referenced a number of resources to help inform their ideas, one of which was the Autodesk Sustainability Workshop, where they learned about water-efficient fixtures and equipment, water resources in buildings, wastewater recycling, rainwater harvesting, and much more. Some of these concepts were applied to the final design. Others have been identified as concepts to be used in future plans for two additional toilets and hand wash rooms.

Prior to the start of the project, School 125 had only four taps for hand washing for 400 children, with a limited water supply and poor water pressure. Now, through the collaborative efforts of Team 125, and through the investment in locally sourced materials, the school has 25 working taps and drains.  By using locally sourced materials, School 125 can easily and cheaply service and maintain the new sanitation system, ensuring it does not fall into disrepair.  Further, their design has allowed for increased water tank storage capacity and improved water pressure.

Originally the school only had 4 taps for 400 students.  Photo courtesy of IAPMO.

Where there was once no urinal flushing available, resulting in a foul smell and unsanitary conditions, the urinals are now flushed by re-used hand wash water drained into the urinal trough wastewater recycling. Additionally, the team designed spring-loaded, push button flush taps and spreaders, with set water flow.  These simple design changes improve the efficiency of water use in the facilities and reduce the amount of clean water needed for sanitation.

3D model of new urinal flushing system that reuses the water from handwashing.  Photo courtesy of IAPMO.

Small leaks and design flaws can often add up, over time, to significant waste and environmental impact.  To address this problem, Team 125 installed seven water meters in the piping to monitor the performance of the newly upgraded facilities to assess water use, tap performance, design performance, and maintenance needs, allowing them to make modifications as necessary, to reach optimal efficiency.

Fusion 360 model of water efficient taps.  Photo courtesy of IAPMO.

The Community Plumbing Challenge project at School 125 in Nashik directly benefitted the students and local community through engaging them in education around the importance and health benefits of good sanitation, as well as by providing an efficient, easily maintained, and scalable sustainable design for sanitation facilities.


Read part 3 of this series: the women behind the School 125 Community Plumbing Challenge