Water is a precious resource, and although it flows freely from the tap, it’s not infinite. Green campus lawns, clean cafeteria plates, and even air conditioned dorms don’t happen without using lots of water. As major institutions, colleges are serious users of water, and although some don’t yet recognize the need to conserve water, many of them do. In fact, college campuses are home to some of the most innovative ideas for water conservation, implementing water management technology, smart conservation policies and more. Read on to find out about 40 great ways colleges are putting great minds to work on water conservation.
1. I Heart Tap Water
UC-Berkeley’s I Heart Tap Water campaign promoted tap water as the beverage of choice for the campus. The university credits the campaign’s success to the testing of more than 450 water fountains on campus to ensure water quality. The program has reduced usage of plastic water bottles on campus by at least 25 percent.
2. Cutting back on car washing
Colleges use many vehicles on and off campus, and those vehicles need to be washed, but not frequently. Schools like the University of Washington have cut back on car washing in their motor pools to save water.
3. Using campus resources
Large campuses may have access to creeks and wells on their land. At Stanford University, almost 75 percent of water used for irrigation comes from water sourced on Stanford’s own land.
4. Installing water misers
Schools like Stanford have used water misers on autoclaves in the Medical School and research buildings. Instead of having water running 24 hours a day on the devices, misers sense when the water is needed and when it is not. This measure alone has helped to reduce water usage in these buildings by over 50 percent.
5. Landscaping with drought-tolerant plants
At St. Mary’s College, drought-tolerant plants have been put in place, including oleander, lavender and nandina, with drought-tolerant plants making up about 95 percent of campus plants.
6. Cal State-LA technology
Using a wireless water management service, Cal State-LA was able to lower its water bills and reduce water usage by about 27 million gallons in 18 months. The system also saves valuable staff time and adjusts to weather changes, turning off water before it rains.
7. A new low flow standard
The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education reports that low flow showerheads and faucets, as well as low water volume toilets and urinals, are standard practice for U.S. colleges.
8. Dual flush toilets
In addition to low flow toilets, colleges like Harvard are also using dual flush toilets, which allow toilets to use less water unless deemed necessary by their users.
9. Recycling carpet
Carpet doesn’t sound like a big water waster, but Oberlin College has calculated its savings from recycling carpet. By recycling 177,057 square feet of used carpet, it has saved 112,136.1 gallons of water, in addition to 1.2 billion BTUs of energy.
10. Educating students
At UC-Santa Cruz, students arriving on campus will learn about water conservation in their orientation meetings, and the campus offers dorm room usage audits as well.