Why All-Gender Bathrooms are Necessary

By Kenedy Witherow
Sustainable Investment Group (SIG)

all-gender restroom signThe U.S Green Building Council (USGBC) added an all-gender restrooms pilot credit that if met, adds one point to the LEED project. It was introduced with LEED version 4 in November of 2013. This pilot credit is also included in version 4.1 and intends to provide comfortable restroom access for every building occupant.

What is a pilot credit?
According to USGBC, pilot credits are proposed credits that are used to test and evaluate a strategy before they may be incorporated into the LEED process. Pilot credits are open for at least one year. After that one-year mark, USGBC staff gathers feedback from surveys, project documentation, LEED user forum discussions, and more to determine the next best steps. In this case, the pilot credit language was slightly altered for v4.1 and USGBC kept the pilot credit open.

How can projects achieve this credit?
In LEED v4.1, the all-gender restrooms credit requires the project to meet the LEED Indoor Water Use Reduction Prerequisite requirements (to reduce indoor potable water consumption and preserve potable water resources) and requires that facilities provide means for the distribution of menstruation hygiene products within the all-gender restroom.

After fulfilling the prerequisite requirements, there are two different options to pursue the all-gender facilities pilot credit. Option 1 is to build only all-gender facilities, either in the form of single or multi-stall facilities to be used by every occupant.

Option 2 is to build separate gendered and all-gender facilities. Within Option 2 are 2 more options, the single-stall or the multi-stall option. The single-stall option requires there to be two single-stall all-gender restrooms within each set of multi-stall, gendered restrooms.

The multi-stall option requires a third multi-stall facility to be added to the traditionally gendered multi-stall facilities present in restroom banks. This third set of stalls must have at least one ADA or equivalent local code stall and should adhere to the same quality as the gendered facilities.

The project must meet a minimum number of required plumbing fixtures for each sex unless installing single user facilities. However, some projects have opted to include urinals even if not required, in order to meet both the inclusivity and water efficiency indoor water savings goals.

What are the benefits of all-gender restrooms?
The project should always decide which is best for them but should be aware that single user facilities are becoming more popular and desirable among people. Offering gender inclusive restrooms provides a restroom where people of any sex, gender, or gender identity can feel more comfortable. It also creates additional restroom capacity.

Crafting single-user gender inclusive restrooms isn’t difficult and can be just like the “family” restroom model we are used to seeing in shopping malls and large venues. This strategy would achieve credit under Option 1 if all other requirements are met.

Another desirable option is to designate gender-neutral bathrooms alongside the standard male and female multi-user restrooms. This is especially relevant in large existing offices with several male and female multi-user restrooms. Having a gender-neutral multi-user facility alongside the standard male and female multi-user restrooms can be far more productive and comfortable than having only all-gender multi-stall facilities and may be more feasible for some existing buildings than adding single-user facilities. This strategy would achieve credit under Option 2.

This pilot credit contributes to the well-being of building occupants while also considering water savings opportunities and prioritizing environmental transparency. User feedback has always been and remains an important consideration in design, especially if this pilot credit is to move forward.

All-Gender Restrooms | U.S. Green Building Council (usgbc.org) – https://www.usgbc.org/credits/WEpc147-v4.1

Gender Inclusive Restrooms — When They Make Sense, and How to Do Them Right | Sloan – https://www.sloan.com/blog/gender-inclusive-restrooms-when-they-make-sense-and-how-do-them-right