Cost Savings Benefits of Vacuum Plumbing

Return to Benefits

Did You Know?

In a recent comparison for an average size county correctional facility, the cost impact of the vacuum system compared to gravity was approximately $0.90 per square foot. When projected water savings were taken into account, the payback on the additional cost was less than five years.

Construction Costs

Construction Costs

Eliminates or significantly reduces potential floor cutting and saves weeks in the overall construction cycle. It minimizes cost impact and work required for engineering or design changes.

Post Tension Slab


Eliminates the costly expense of having to x-ray the slab to find specific locations that are fee of cables where a hole or trench could be cored for piping or waste pipe connection.

Water Savings

water savings

Reduces potable water consumption for toilets by as much as 68% and reduces sewage waste discharge with a ½ gallon toilet flush.

Installation Materials and Labor


Labor and material costs are reduced since the installation is above ground and smaller diameter water and waste piping are used. The costs associated with vent stack piping and expensive roof penetrations are also eliminated. The above-ground installation saves construction or remodel time and labor.

On re-model work, the savings can be substantial depending on the size of the existing facility and the length and depth of trenching required for gravity waste pipe tie-in. Typical savings are 30% and in some cases much higher.

Other Cost Saving Benefits

  • Eliminates problems with miss-location of floor drain stub ups, floor sinks and cleanouts.
  • Minimizes cost impact and work required for engineering or design changes.
  • Can significant reduce sewage impact fees.
  • Minimizes customer inconvenience and increases safety for staff and customers when used in commercial retail project renovations.
  • Minimizes any potential plumbing renovation impact on lower level tenants in multi-story buildings.
  • Vacuum drainage equipment can be capitalized, depreciated and taken with the owner if the business is relocated.

Project Example

Mental Health Facility/Treatment Center, Salinas Valley State Prison
Location: Soledad, CA
Completed: July, 2009

The Project Team

CDCR, Program Manager Kitchell CEM, Nacht & Lewis Architects, Capital Engineering, CB Engineering, Roebbelen Contracting Inc., and Green Building Services

Project Description

The Salinas Valley State Prison is a 64-bed, 36,400 sq-ft mental health housing & treatment facility in Soledad, CA. The facility houses male inmates requiring inpatient mental health care at level IV security (the most violent). The project’s aim is to achieve the first LEED certification or the State’s prison system, ahead of the 2011 mandate.

Objectives Achieved

Minimize water consumption and waste water treatment A single inmate may flush his or her toilet more than an average household flushes in an entire day. A correctional facility operating at full occupancy uses a lot of water and it generates a lot of waste. AcornVac, in combination with other conservation efforts throughout the Salinas facility, contributes to a reduction in potable water use by a 56 percent, as reported by the California Department of Corrections “and lowered sewage conveyance by nearly 70 percent;” far exceeding the Governor’s Executive Order #S-20-04 and the LEED requirements.

Achieve Silver LEED Certification Status

The water savings from the AcronVac System along with other attributes contributed to a Silver LEED certification. Boost security and minimize contraband A toilet in a prison cell is used and abused in multiple ways; it can be used to dispose of trash, to hide contraband, or to create distractions. With a vacuum plumbing system the direct connection of multiple toilets into the same waste stack is eliminated, thereby preventing inmates from passing contraband between cells. Vacuum toilets eliminate cell-to-cell communication that inmates often use to create “planned plumbing chaos” by organizing large “group flushes” that are typical for gravity drainage systems.

Reduce Maintenance Cost and Effort

The AcornVac system in the Salinas Facility proved to be low maintenance, due in large part to its design. The system efficiently isolates every cell from the waste piping network by means of a normally closed valve \separating the toilet in the cell from the rest of the toilets in the facility. Leaks and mainline clogs are virtually eliminated. The facility personnel report fewer maintenance calls. “There have hardly been any problems raised to our level of attention. We have no mainline blockages to report, and I haven’t had to order any replacement parts.”