Field Audit Methodology
Field Audit of MaP-tested Toilet Fixtures
It is essential that the toilet fixture you purchase or specify is equal to or better in flush performance than the sample that was originally tested by one of the MaP-approved laboratories and included in our list of toilets. That is, the one you find on the shelf at your local retailer or plumbing supply house should be identical to (or even better than!) the tested model. As such, we have created a Field Audit process to verify performance of randomly selected fixtures.
MaP’s Field Audit objective is to measure and compare the MaP flushing performance and flush volume of sample toilet fixture models purchased at retail outlets (i.e., randomly selected samples) vs. samples of similar models provided for testing by product manufacturers (i.e., potentially ‘cherry picked’ samples, possibly in violation of the MaP Terms and Conditions) and to determine if what is being sold in the marketplace is any different from the test samples originally provided by manufacturers.
Why do we test?
To ensure that our lists and website are providing you with credible data, MaP field-tests a previously tested product if:
- There is evidence that a toilet sold at retail outlets is materially different from the ones originally tested by a MaP-approved laboratory.
- Original MaP testing was conducted more than four years previous.
- Consumer complaints suggest that a toilet model is performing well below the level indicated by the MaP testing score.
Samples of fixtures to be audited (i.e., re-tested) will typically be obtained from retail outlets such as big box stores, conventional hardware and fixture retailers, plumbing supply houses, showrooms, etc., and NOT from the original product manufacturer.
Test results, comparisons, and the reports on these purchased toilets will be posted for viewing on a free-access website and made available to the water efficiency and green building communities, to consumer and environmental advocates, to manufacturers, and any other interested parties.
Consistent Testing Methodology
The field audit will generally proceed along the following steps, although modifications may occur as sponsors step forward and toilet fixture models are identified for testing:
Task 1: Identify Audit Model Candidates
Compile a short-list of potential field audit toilet models from the long-list of previously MaP tested toilet models. Consider variables including regional availability in the North American marketplace of certain products, extent of concerns over specific fixture models as expressed by third parties, type of fixture flushing technology, date of original MaP testing by an approved lab, current availability, and market penetration of specific fixture models, etc.
Task 2: Obtain Audit Models
Randomly selected samples of each toilet model to be audited will be obtained from a retail source as appropriate. Additional samples of toilet models may be purchased if (a) the audited sample appears to be physically different (e.g., different tank trim, bowl design, etc.) from the originally tested sample OR (b) MaP test results (in Task 3) reveal a significant disparity between the original MaP score and the MaP score of the audit model OR (c) the flush volume is significantly greater than the rated flush volume.
Task 3: Inspection and Testing of Audit Models
Each model obtained for field audit testing will undergo the following:
(1) A full physical inspection to ascertain that, to the inspector’s satisfaction, the toilet model is unchanged from the toilet in the original MaP test. Non-cosmetic discrepancies that could affect flush performance will be identified, documented and reported to the manufacturer; the manufacturer will be queried as to the reason for the discrepancies. In the event that response from the manufacturer is not forthcoming or is unsatisfactory, the model will be removed immediately from the master MaP database and our website listing. In the case of WaterSense-certified fixtures, the U.S. EPA WaterSense Program will be immediately notified of the failure to resolve the discrepancies and it will be recommended that the certification of the model be questioned or, in some cases, be rescinded.
(2) Models that successfully complete item a. above will next be subjected to the latest MaP testing protocol (including flush volume verification).
Where the MaP performance score of the field audit model varies by greater than 20 percent (or, in the case of WaterSense-certified models, falls below 350g), the manufacturer will be notified and given an opportunity to respond. However, the manufacturer will NOT be permitted to submit their own fixture as a substitute for the randomly selected field audit model. Rather, the manufacturer and field auditor may jointly and randomly select and obtain/purchase additional field audit models at one or more retail outlets of their choosing in order to continue testing and obtain additional data. The costs associated with the purchase and testing of any additional audit model samples shall be borne by the manufacturer in question. If it is concluded that the performance of the field audit samples of the toilet model has decreased by more than 20 percent OR fallen below 350 grams, the entry in our MaP listing will be revised to reflect the new, lower score. In those cases where the MaP performance of a WaterSense-certified toilet falls below 350 grams (with uncased media) or the flush volume exceeds the level prescribed in the WaterSense High-Efficiency Toilet Specification, the U.S. EPA WaterSense Program will immediately be notified. In those cases where the flush volume significantly exceeds the rated flush volume of the model, the manufacturer will be notified and given an opportunity to respond.
Task 4: Reporting
All of the findings of Task 3, together with recommendations for improvement in the audit process, are documented by the field audit team and, where permitted, made publicly available on one or more free-access websites.
Please address any questions or comments regarding the above to the authors at:
Principal, Koeller & Company
Principal, Gauley Associates7