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Publication numberUS20100186162 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 12/692,218
Publication dateJul 29, 2010
Filing dateJan 22, 2010
Priority dateJan 27, 2009
Publication number12692218, 692218, US 2010/0186162 A1, US 2010/186162 A1, US 20100186162 A1, US 20100186162A1, US 2010186162 A1, US 2010186162A1, US-A1-20100186162, US-A1-2010186162, US2010/0186162A1, US2010/186162A1, US20100186162 A1, US20100186162A1, US2010186162 A1, US2010186162A1
InventorsCharles Randall Leonard
Original AssigneeCity Of Portland
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Public Restroom
US 20100186162 A1
Abstract
In one preferred embodiment, the present invention includes a self-standing public restroom facility requiring only sewer and water at the installation site. The facility is a functional, low-cost, easy-to-maintain, low-power-consumer, safe, accessible public restroom facility available to all citizens of a modern society, whether such citizens be tourists, business-persons, transients, home-less, able-bodied or physically challenged. The facility comprises a plurality of wall panels that bolt to a slab and to each other to enable rapid, low cost, off-site, modular construction and easy assembly on-site.
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Claims(18)
1. A stand-alone public restroom facility for a site providing a sewer and a water supply, the facility comprising:
a plurality of wall segments wherein each wall segment comprises a louvered top panel, a solid intermediate panel, a louvered bottom panel, and a structural frame system, the plurality of wall segments cooperating to enclose a space;
a roof structure supported by at least one of the plurality of wall segments, the roof structure covering the enclosed space and the roof structure further comprising at least one solar-photovoltaic panel in communication with an energy storage device, the energy storage device further communicating with one LED light fixture, the LED light fixture being in communication with a sensor system whereby occupancy of the enclosure by a user is indicated by one color of the LED light fixture, and availability of the enclosure being indicated by a second color of the LED light fixture, and a light-sensor to control interior illumination of the enclosure based on a first pre-set condition;
a toilet disposed within the enclosure in fluid communication with the sewer and the water supply;
a hand-wash station mounted on an exterior portion of one of the plurality of wall panels, the hand-wash facility in fluid communication with the water supply and a drain.
2. The facility of claim 1 further comprising:
a service enclosure comprising a lockable door member and adapted to enclose the energy storage device and further providing means for connecting the toilet and the hand-wash facility to the sewer and water supply.
3. The facility of claim 1 wherein the site further includes a concrete slab, the facility further comprising:
a means for attaching at least one wall panel at the structural frame system to the slab wherein the lower louvered panel is suspended above the slab by a predetermined distance.
4. The facility of claim 1 wherein the roof structure further comprises:
an opaque sky-light window adapted to illuminate the enclosed interior space during daylight hours.
5. The facility of claim 1 further comprising:
a use-door adapted to enable a user to access the enclosure, the use-door further comprising a locking means and a panel adapted to display art or advertising.
6. The facility of claim 1 wherein the upper and lowered louvered panels respectively of each of the plurality of wall panels further comprise:
angled louvers adapted to promote privacy for the user yet enable law-enforcement to monitor the interior enclosure.
7. The facility of claim 1 wherein the hand-wash station further comprises:
a push-button adapted to start the flow of the water supply for a predetermined duration.
8. The facility of claim 1 wherein at least one of the plurality of wall panels further comprises:
an interior side further adapted to include at least one ADA-approved grab-bar.
9. A wall panel system for a public restroom comprising:
a first wall panel comprising
a top louvered panel coupled to
an intermediate solid panel coupled to
a lower louvered panel;
a first supporting post arranged adjacent to the first wall panel and coupled to at least any one of the top louvered panel, the intermediate solid panel or the lower louvered panel; and
a second wall panel arranged adjacent to and coupled to the first supporting post, the first supporting post being disposed intermediate to the first and second wall panel.
10. The wall panel system of claim 9 wherein:
the first wall panel further comprises a generally planar wall panel.
11. The wall panel system of claim 9 wherein:
the second wall panel further comprises a generally curvilinear wall panel.
12. The wall panel system of claim 9 wherein:
the second wall panel further comprises a generally planar wall panel.
13. The wall panel system of claim 9 wherein:
the second wall panel further comprises a top louvered panel coupled to an intermediate panel coupled to a lower louvered panel.
14. The wall panel system of claim 9 further comprising:
a second supporting post coupled to the first wall panel; and
a third supporting post coupled to the second wall panel.
15. A method for providing a public restroom wherein a fresh water supply line and a sewer line are provided to a site, the method comprising:
providing a wall panel system comprising at least a first wall panel comprising
a top louvered panel coupled to
an intermediate solid panel coupled to
a lower louvered panel;
a first supporting post arranged adjacent to the first wall panel and coupled to at least any one of the top louvered panel, the intermediate solid panel or the lower louvered panel; and
a second wall panel arranged adjacent to and coupled to the first supporting post, the first supporting post being disposed intermediate to the first and second wall panel;
enclosing a space with the wall panel system;
providing a roof structure adapted to support a solar panel;
supporting the roof structure on the wall panel system;
providing a toilet within the enclosed space;
providing a hand-washing faucet outside the enclosed space;
connecting the toilet to the fresh water supply and to the sewer; and
connecting the hand-washing faucet to the fresh water supply.
16. The method of claim 15 further comprising:
providing a controller;
providing a solar panel;
providing a LED light with a first mode and a second mode;
providing a sensor adapted to sense a person inside the enclosed space;
providing an energy storage system;
providing electrical coupling between the controller, the solar panel, the LED light, the sensor, and the energy storage system; and
mounting the LED light to the exterior of the wall panel system;
mounting the solar panel to the roof structure.
17. The method of claim 16 further comprising:
enabling the controller to determine the presence of a person in the enclosed space by receiving a signal from the sensor;
enabling the controller to activate a first mode of the LED to indicate that the enclosed space is occupied; and
enabling the controller to activate a second mode of the LED to indicate that the enclosed space is unoccupied when the controller receives a second signal from the sensor.
18. The method of claim 15 further comprising:
providing a concrete slab with a drain for the exterior faucet and plumbing lines for coupling to the toilette to the fresh water supply and the sewer;
coupling the wall panel system to the concrete slab.
Description
PRIORITY CLAIM

The present application claims benefit under 35 USC Section 119(e) of U.S. regular Patent Application No. 61/147,541 filed on 27 Jan. 2009: The present application is based on and claims priority from this application, the disclosure of which is hereby expressly incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND

The present invention relates to public restroom facilities and more specifically to handicapped accessible public toilet facilities.

Known public restroom designs may be generally classified into three broad categories: stand-alone, semi-permanent units that require some services such as electricity and sewer services, self-contained (i.e. portable) units not connected to any power or sewer grid, or traditional facilities incorporated in buildings. Each of these aforementioned categories of public facilities can be further enhanced with automated, self-cleaning apparatus, handicap accessible, and the like. Further, some public facilities include aesthetic features that make the overall exterior or interior design more pleasing to the public.

One known public restroom includes a self-cleaning restroom disclosed by Stock in U.S. Pat. No. 3,713,176 issued on 30 Jan. 1973. Stock teaches a self-cleaning restroom having a panel swingably mounted within the restroom between a normally vertical position and a horizontally disposed or cleaning position. A front side of the panel includes various dispensers as commonly found in public restrooms and a reverse side includes a group of nozzles suitably arranged thereon and communicated with a variety of fluids each of which is programmed to emanate from the nozzles in a predetermined sequence for spray cleaning and disinfecting the entire restroom.

Another example of a self-cleaning restroom includes the disclosure of Garvey et al. in U.S. Pat. No. 3,869,732 issued on 11 Mar. 1975. Garvey teaches a restroom design having three bathroom fixtures, of which a lavatory and counter are mounted on a wall which is rotatable 90-degrees about a hinge to a cleaning position where the lavatory is above the toilet. The movable fixtures close on themselves over the toilet and retractable nozzles position to clean each fixture when the hingeable walls are closed in.

An example of a portable toilet facility includes the disclosure of Patterson in U.S. Pat. No. 4,163,294 issued on 7 Aug. 1979. Patterson teaches a toilet facility that is completely independent of water supply and sewer lines and includes a house having a waste-receiving tank within it and another tank located outside the house connected by a transfer pipe via a provided pump for pumping waste from the inside take to the outside tank. The tanks contain aeration pipes with pressurized air and a heat-generating source to encourage and activate aerobic bacteria in the waste. The house includes a translucent, dome-shaped roof with gutter and a vent that lowers and raises. Major components of the house are formed from plastic.

An example of an attempt to make a public facility more aesthetically appealing include the design Ariza et al. as shown in U.S. Pat. No. Des. 424,667 issued on 9 May 2000. Ariza describes a structure rectangular structure having a generally square footprint and domed top portion. Another similar example includes the design of Tagg disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. Des. 360,471 issued on 18 Jul. 1995.

More successful improvements to public toilet designs recognize both the human dignity element and conflicting size requirements between ADA accessible facilities constrained in high-density urban environments where the public facility is retrofit on an existing public right-of-way that is overly narrow and was not originally designed for such a structure. One such improved public restroom includes a self-cleaning facility described by White, Jr. et al. in U.S. Pat. No. 5,647,074 issued on 15 Jul. 1997. The White facility includes an automatic, self-cleaning, ADA compliant facility with a toilet that lowers from a vertical position to any number of adjustable-height horizontal positions. The compact facility includes a semicircular door, which is stored behind the equipment and machinery compartment when the facility is unoccupied. This design makes the facility adaptable for narrow sites and reduces the footprint of the structure when not in use. Despite many advantages of the White teaching, there remain yet a number of disadvantages. Such disadvantages include a number of motorized components including the folding toilet, the height-adjustment for the toilet, curved door, and the automated cleaning apparatus, for example. The motors require providing power to the structure from external power lines and are expensive and difficult to maintain and repair and added unnecessary complexity and cost. Another disadvantage includes a difficulty to install the structure flush with the existing grade, as the curved door requires an in-ground mounted track to guide itself from the open to the closed position. Another problem is the inability of law-enforcement to monitor illicit activity when the facility is in use. Also, the door may easily become blocked, thus preventing closure from the open position and rending the structure inoperable for its intended use.

Despite numerous attempts of providing suitable public facilities, there remains need for an improved public restroom facility that is easy to clean without the need of complex automated apparatus. Further, such an improved facility should be economical to produce and install, requiring minimal services comprising essentially of fresh water and sewer connections to an existing grid, not require power from the grid. Additionally, an improved public restroom should be energy-efficient in its use, be economical to repair and maintain, provide access for all users—able bodied or challenged—and provide means for privacy while simultaneously enabling law-enforcement to monitor the facilities against illicit uses.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one preferred embodiment, the present invention comprises a self-contained public restroom facility particularly adapted for use in urban settings or other settings were a water supply and sewer connection is provided. The so-called Portland Loo brand (a trademark of the City of Portland, Oreg., USA) public facility is the brainchild of Commissioner Randy Leonard, who saw a growing global problem and devised a novel, local solution. Recognizing that all humans are entitled to a little dignity when taking car of such private business, there is an ever increasing demand for functional, low-cost, easy-to-maintain, low-power-consuming, safe, and accessible public restroom facilities available to all citizens of a modern society, whether such citizens be tourists, business-persons, transients, home-less, able-bodied or physically challenged.

Certain elements of the present invention include:

    • Lightweight construction. Each unit is composed of minimal materials. Utilizing stainless steel wall panels mounted to a slim-profile structural members results in a facility weighing a fraction of typical restrooms and can be delivered on-site as a complete enclosure.
    • Safe and Open. Louvers at the top and bottom of the wall create an interior environment that offers complete user privacy, while remaining as connected with the outside as possible. The lower louvers are angled to provide law enforcement the opportunity to observe the number of simultaneous users within the unit without compromising user privacy. The unit's hand-washing station is mounted on the exterior to promote shorter use times and to serve the general pedestrian population, including providing a means for pet owners to obtain potable water for their pets.
    • Functional. The entire unit can be off-grid and lit entirely by solar-powered LED fixtures. Or the unit can be pre-wired for 115-volt AC power, or both. At night, a gentle light washes the exterior until it is occupied, at which time interior lights activate and the exterior lights dim announcing that the facility is occupied. All of the cleaning and maintenance implements as well as electrical components and solar batteries, are housed in a cabinet at the rear of the unit.

Advantages of preferred embodiments of the present invention include: an affordable design that is cost-effective to build, install and maintain; an industrial design that deters illicit activity; durable materials that resist vandalism attempts; an overall assembly design that makes repair, maintenance and replacement of components fast, easy, and affordable; requires only water and sewer hook-up and does not require electrical hook-up (but can be modified to hook-up to grid, if desired); ADA accessible; no attendant required; designed for 24-hour use, 365-days a year; sustainable materials and power source (solar powered).

Other features of the present invention include: replaceable stainless steel wall panels, a button-activated exterior hand wash fixture and exterior drain; angled lower louvers for privacy and for external monitoring of activity within restroom; integrated solar panels and storage batteries; low-power consuming, LED light fixtures that adapt between in-use and available; translucent skylight.

DRAWING

FIG. 1 is an offset top view of a first preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a front elevation view of the embodiment of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a left side view of one embodiment according to the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a right side view of the embodiment of FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 is a back elevation view of the embodiment of FIG. 1.

FIG. 6 is a top view of the embodiment of FIG. 1.

FIG. 7 is a partial detail view of the left side of structure shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 8 is an alternative back elevation view of the embodiment of FIG. 1 and shows access doors open.

FIG. 9 is a top plan view of the embodiment of FIG. 1 with the roof structure removed to illustrate the interior portion.

FIG. 10 is a schematic representation of a solar collection, storage, and activation system according to the first preferred embodiment of the present invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Possible embodiments will now be described with reference to the drawings and those skilled in the art will understand that alternative configurations and combinations of components may be substituted without subtracting from the invention. Also, in some figures certain components are omitted to more clearly illustrate the invention.

FIGS. 1 through 10 illustrate a first preferred embodiment of a public restroom facility. In this embodiment, a stand-alone restroom requires only sewer and water supply from an external source such as a sewer line and water line provided by a municipality and roughed at the desired installation site. The desired installation site further includes a level concrete slab at or above grade. If above grade, appropriate ramps are provided to enable physically challenged or mobility challenged individuals unencumbered access according to governmental mandates, regulation, and guidelines, as appropriate, and including, for example, the American's with Disabilities Act (ADA). The structure or facility 10 comprises a plurality of wall panels. Each wall panel 20 includes at least one structural frame element such as a metal support post 22. A first wall panel comprises a pair of generally parallel support posts vertically arranged with a series of panels intermediately disposed. A first panel includes an upper louvered panel 24, a second, middle, solid panel 25 and a third, lower louvered panel 27. A second wall 21 adapts to couple to one of the vertical support posts of the first wall and, therefore, comprises a single vertical support post. A pair of wall panels, then, may share the intermediate post. In a like fashion, other wall panels are combined to create an interior enclosure. The louvered portions of each panel are angled to ensure privacy during use by a user, yet enable law enforcement the ability to monitor the facility to deter illicit use.

The roof structure 12 includes an opaque skylight 14 adapted to illuminate the interior or enclosed portion during daylight. The roof structure covers the interior or enclosed portion and further provides structural support for one or more solar photovoltaic panels 16. The photovoltaic panels convert solar energy into electricity by means well understood in the art. The facility includes a bank of batteries 42 or other suitable storage means for storing excess electricity and for discharge on demand when the solar panels are unable to provide sufficient current to power the facility as needed.

The facility further includes a series of low-voltage, highly efficient light-emitting diode (LED) lights 18. The LED light fixture illuminates the enclosed interior when the ambient light falls below a predetermined threshold as indicated by the appropriate light sensors 19 in communication with a controller 40. Additionally, the light fixtures are controlled based on use or availability of the facility. A sensor determines whether the enclosed interior is occupied, and determines a first color indicator light color for an exterior LED light to indicate to the public that the facility is in use. A second color of the exterior LED light indicates availability for use. Interior LED lights illuminate according to occupancy and ambient lighting conditions. This configuration enables the facility to remain off-grid for electrical purposes.

FIGS. 3 and 7 illustrate an exterior (left) side of the first preferred embodiment of the present invention. Particularly, the exterior hand-wash station 32 comprising a push-button 36 controller to initiate the flow of clean water from an exterior mounted faucet 34, which empties into a ground based drain 38. This facility 10 includes an exterior wash station only: this ensures a more efficient use of both the toilet (inside) and hand-washing (outside) enabling multiple simultaneous users and further deters prolonged use of the interior as commonly experienced by public facilities where patrons wash their clothes and bodies.

A locking door 26 suitably sized and configured to comply with ADA mandates accesses the enclosed interior portion. Further, interior portions of the wall panels provide grab-handles 54.

The access door 26 preferably includes an art panel 28 to make the exterior more aesthetically pleasing and/or for advertising use to offset the cost of maintaining and operating the facility. These figures more clearly show the opaque skylight 14 and solar panel 16.

The public restroom 10 of this first preferred embodiment anticipates a stand-alone, self-sufficient structure on a level site that is provide with a sewer 44 and water supply 46 from a municipality or other source. Accordingly, an appropriate vent 48 is included in the modular facility.

In this preferred embodiment, the public restroom facility 10 includes a plurality of wall segments 20 wherein each wall segment comprises a louvered top panel 24, a solid intermediate panel 25, a louvered bottom panel 27, and a structural frame system 22. The plurality of wall segments cooperates and couple to each other (or other adjoining structures as will be discussed subsequently) to enclose a space.

A roof structure 12 supported by at least one of the plurality of wall segments covers the enclosed space and further comprises at least one solar-photovoltaic panel 16 in communication with an energy storage device 42, the energy storage device further communicating with one LED light fixture 18, the LED light fixture being in communication with a sensor system 19 whereby occupancy of the enclosure by a user is indicated by one color of the LED light fixture, and availability of the enclosure being indicated by a second color of the LED light fixture 18, and a light-sensor to control interior illumination of the enclosure based on a first pre-set condition.

Additionally, a toilet 52 is disposed within the enclosure and is in communication with the sewer and the water supply as would be well understood in this art.

Further, a hand-wash station mounts on an exterior portion of one of the plurality of wall panels and is in communication with the water supply and a drain as would be well understood in this art.

The public restroom, or facility, 10 further includes a service enclosure comprising a lockable door 30 member and adapted to enclose the energy storage device 42 and further providing means for connecting the toilet and the hand-wash facility to the sewer and water supply.

Additionally, the facility adapts for use on a site having a concrete slab and includes a means for attaching at least one wall panel 20 at the structural frame system 22 to the slab (i.e. bolted) wherein the lower louvered panel is suspended above the slab by a predetermined distance.

The facility includes a roof structure 12 having an opaque skylight window 14 adapted to illuminate the enclosed interior space during daylight hours and a use-door 26 adapted to enable a user to access the enclosure, the use-door further comprising a locking means and a panel adapted to display art 28 or advertising.

Each respective wall panel consists of louvered panels adapted to promote privacy for the user, yet enable law-enforcement to monitor the interior enclosure.

Although the invention has been particularly shown and described with reference to certain embodiments, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes in form and detail may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
WO2012113220A1 *Sep 5, 2011Aug 30, 2012Wen Wan HuiMobile toilet using solar energy
Classifications
U.S. Classification4/664
International ClassificationE03C1/01
Cooperative ClassificationE04H1/1216
European ClassificationE04H1/12B2
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jan 22, 2010ASAssignment
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:LEONARD, CHARLES RANDALL, MR.;REEL/FRAME:23834/957
Owner name: CITY OF PORTLAND OREGON,OREGON
Effective date: 20100121
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:LEONARD, CHARLES RANDALL, MR.;REEL/FRAME:023834/0957
Owner name: CITY OF PORTLAND OREGON, OREGON