40 Important Ways that Colleges Are Conserving Water

http://www.bestcollegesonline.com/blog/2011/09/06/40-important-ways-that-colleges-are-conserving-water/

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. Cal State-LA technology

    Using a wireless water management service, Cal State-LA was able to lower their 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.

  2. 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 US colleges.

  3. 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.

  4. Recycling rooftop rainwater

    Drexel University turns rainwater into a resource rather than waste. Instead of sending it down the pipes to treatment plants, Drexel collects rainwater for non-potable uses, including toilet flushing, landscaping, and gardening.

  5. Cutting back on car washing

    Colleges make use of 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.

  6. Using campus resources

    Large campuses may have access to creeks and wells on their land. At Stanford University, almost 75% of water used for irrigation comes from water sourced on Stanford’s own land.

  7. Going trayless

    Many colleges are ditching trays in their cafeterias, cutting food waste, conserving water, and even keeping the “freshman 15” off new students. At Williams College alone, the college is saving 14,000 gallons of water each year by eliminating trays at one of four campus dining halls.

  8. Landscaping with drought-tolerant plants

    At Saint Mary’s College, drought-tolerant plants have been put in place, including oleander, lavender, and nadina, with drought-tolerant plants making up about 95% of campus plants.

  9. Installing water misers

    Schools like Stanford have made use of 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%.

  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.

  1. Removing bottled water

    Instead of allowing bottled water as an option at campus events and at dining facilities, colleges like Harvey Mudd College are selling or providing refillable water bottles to faculty, staff, and students.

  2. Recirculating systems

    Coolers and other equipment using once-through water cooling systems are being replaced with ones that reuse cooled water, saving not only water, but electricity and gas as well.

  3. Water Wise House Call

    At Stanford University, they have recognized that university water usage doesn’t end off campus. Faculty and staff have their impact in private homes as well. With the Water Wise House Call program, the university has been able to manage water usage off campus by providing information and resources to faculty and staff.

  4. The Living Machine

    At Oberlin College, students get involved in wastewater cleaning with The Living Machine. The machine processes wastewater into reusable greywater by relying on natural cleaning methods in wetlands, including plants and bacteria.

  5. Green campus grounds with reclaimed water

    At the University of California Santa Barbara, 90% of campus grounds are kept green using reclaimed water. This water is also used to flush toilets in some buildings. Reclaimed water is wastewater that has undergone a treatment process, but does not meet standards for drinking.

  6. Recycling carpet

    Carpet doesn’t sound like a big water waster, but at Oberlin College, they’ve calculated their savings from recycling carpet. By recycling 177,057 square feet of used carpet, they’ve saved 112,136.1 gallons of water, in addition to 1,227,418,143 BTUs of energy.

  7. Natural thawing

    Some schools previously thawed food using running water. Instead, colleges like Evergreen State have implemented better planning, and are able to thaw all food products naturally without the use of running water.

  8. Leak detection technology

    Some schools employ water conservation technology that includes leak detection, allowing them to identify and correct leaks that exist on campus.

  9. Updated laundry rooms

    Colleges are upgrading to high efficiency front loading washers, and becoming even more energy efficient by using technology that allows them to monitor the status of the machines. At Canisius College, 755,638 gallons of water have been saved since 2006.

  10. 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 campus usage of plastic water bottles on campus by at least 25%.

  1. Using cisterns

    Colleges are using cisterns to harvest rainwater. At Harford Community College, they capture rooftop runoff in an 80,000 gallon cistern to use in an evaporative cooling tower.

  2. Leak reporting

    Dripping faucets can waste more than 600 gallons a year, and running toilets waste more than 131,000 gallons. On many college campuses, students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to report any leaks that they see. Doing so can alert the maintenance staff to undiscovered sources of water waste that can be resolved easily.

  3. Hand sanitizer installation

    Duke University and many others have cut down on water used for sanitation purposes by installing hand sanitizers in bathrooms and other common areas. For quick sanitation purposes, a full hand wash using water is not needed, and alcohol-based sanitizer can be used instead.

  4. Smart flushing

    In addition to low flow and dual flush toilets, schools are updating with automatic eye flushers. These toilets flush according to the length of time a person is sitting on it, with a 1.1 gallon flush for less than 65 seconds, and 1.6 for 65 seconds or more.

  5. Laundry education

    Tufts reminds students to practice sustainable laundry techniques. Using a flyer, students are educated on using cold water options for washing clothing.

  6. Increased irrigation ponds

    At Duke University, they are taking advantage of more natural water storage by increasing the size of irrigation ponds on their golf course. This water can be used for toilets, landscaping, and more.

  7. Water free urinals

    Many colleges, including Vanderbilt University, are installing water-free urinals, which do not flush. Instead, the urinals use liquid chemicals and gravity, saving up to 40,000 gallons of water each year.

  8. Water use monitoring

    Enhancing awareness of water usage can help conservation efforts, making those who consume water more careful in their usage. Several colleges, including UC-Santa Cruz, have shared water use data publicly and within their community to spotlight conservation of water.

  9. Watering at night

    At lots of schools, watering was completed manually during the daytime, but more recently, colleges have implemented smart irrigation systems that water during the evening or early morning hours, saving evaporation, as well as overspray.

  10. Native plants

    Colleges like Centralia are switching to native plants, which need less water and maintenance due to their indigenous status.

  1. Rooftop vegetation

    To reduce the passage of rainwater into the sewer system, colleges are installing green roofs, which feature vegetation that consumes a large amount of water before running off. These systems also help to keep the top floor of buildings cooler during hot months, and insulated from cold temperatures and icy winds in the winter.

  2. Reduced power washing

    Everyone likes to see a sparkly clean college, but many schools are recognizing that they don’t need to power wash as often as they have in the past. At the University of Washington, power washing has been reduced to the removal of graffiti and slippery materials only.

  3. Simple reminders

    Using stickers, signs, and other awareness tools, schools are placing simple reminders in high water usage areas, such as busy restrooms. These reminders can help students be mindful about their water usage.

  4. Purchasing Energy Star equipment

    Dishwashers, washing machines, and other water-consuming appliances can make a big difference in water usage, especially on a college sized scale. Schools like Boston College are replacing their old equipment with new, more energy efficient machines, cutting water consumption by 50%.

  5. Updated facilities equipment

    Water cooled compressors, single pass chillers, cooling towers, and more often use water, and not always efficiently. Schools like the University of Washington have identified water wasting equipment and updated them, such as replacing water cooled compressors with air cooled ones.

  6. Drought-tolerant grass

    Schools are adopting the use of grass that doesn’t need to be watered or mowed often. At UC-Davis and UC-Riverside, a new strain of grass, UC-Verde, was created. This grass needs only 25% the amount of water used for typical turf grasses.

  7. On-demand hot water heaters

    Residential buildings may have their hot water heaters upgraded to tankless on demand models. At Dartmouth, these heaters are used to save water while students wait for the water to heat up.

  8. Removing lawn areas

    Maintaining lawn areas typically means keeping up with watering, but at Scripps College, they may not have to deal with it as much. The college is considering removing lawn areas where appropriate, reducing the amount of water needed to maintain campus lawns.

  9. Water coolers and taps

    With the use of water coolers, students, faculty, and staff can fill up reusable containers instead of buying bottled water. Schools like Dartmouth have employed the use of Brita pitchers and point of service units that dispense filtered (and sometimes even flavored) water.

  10. Water recycling washing machines

    At Middlebury College, soiled aprons and chef jackets go through to wash and rinse cycles, which ordinarily would be wasteful. But using a water recycler, the college is able to capture the rinse water for the next wash cycle.

San Fransisco Rolls out tap water refilling stations

http://www.inspiredwater.org/2011/02/san-fran-rolls-out-global-tap-water-refilling-stations/.


Those who live in San Francisco may have noticed strange new contraptions located around the city. These metal boxes are the new official “tap water refilling stations.”

The “refilling stations” are a project of the Department of the Environment, the Public Utilities Commission and Global Tap and are designed, according to the press release, “to promote free access to San Francisco’s great tasting tap water.” There are currently seven stations located around the city, but they plan to have a total of 15 units installed.

“People take for granted what’s in front of them, and that’s definitely the case for tap water,” said Tyrone Jue, spokesman for the PUC. “We need to remind people every chance we get that bottled water just isn’t necessary.” According to the PUC, the city’s tap water costs $.003 per gallon versus $1-$4 per gallon of bottled water. And it’s much better for the environment since it doesn’t come in plastic bottles.

Live in SF? Find your nearest refilling station here.

To learn more, visit here and here.

Best and worst bottled water brands by Shine

http://shine.yahoo.com/event/green/best-and-worst-bottled-water-brands-2436818/

By Lori Bongiorno

(Photo: B2M Productions / Getty Images)(Photo: B2M Productions / Getty Images) 

How much do you know about the bottled water you drink? Not nearly enough, according to a new report released today from Environmental Working Group(EWG). “Bottled water companies try hard to hide information you might find troubling,” says Jane Houlihan, senior vice president of research for the Washington D.C.-based research and advocacy group.

[Read more: Cities with the best (and worst) tap water]

EWG analyzed the labels of 173 unique bottled water products and company websites to determine if companies disclose information on where water comes from, how or if their water is treated, and whether the results of purity testing are revealed. The nonprofit also looked at how effective (and advanced) any water treatment methods are. Researchers followed up by calling dozens of bottled water companies to find out which ones willingly tell consumers what’s in their bottles.

The Environmental Protection Agency says on its website that consumers have the right to know where their water comes from and what’s in it so they can “make informed choices that affect the health of themselves and their families.” Tap water is regularly tested and consumers can find their local water info online. That’s not necessarily the case with bottled water, which is not required to disclose that information to consumers. “Bottled water is a food product and every one of these companies is complying with federal law,” says Tom Lauria, of the International Bottled Water Association.

[Video: The story of bottled water]

More than half of the bottled water products surveyed failed EWG’s transparency test –18 percent didn’t say where their water comes from, and another 32 percent did not disclose any information on treatment or purity of water.

Only three brands earned the highest possible marks for disclosing information and using the most advanced treatment methods available – Gerber Pure Purified WaterNestle Pure Life Purified Water, and Penta Ultra-Purified Water.

On the other end of the spectrum, these six brands got the worst marks in EWG’s report because they don’t provide consumers with the three basic facts about water on product labels or their company website – Whole Foods Italian Still Mineral WaterVintage Natural Spring WaterSahara Premium Drinking WaterO Water Sport Electrolyte Enhanced Purified Drinking WaterMarket Basket Natural Spring Water, andCumby’s Spring Water.

How does your bottled water brand stack up? Here’s a look at the 10 top-selling* U.S. brands:

1.     Pure Life Purified Water (Nestle), EWG grade = B

2.     Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water (Nestle), EWG grade = C

3.     Aquafina Purified Drinking Water (Pepsi), EWG grade = D

4.     Dasani Purified Water (Coca-Cola), EWG grade = D

5.     Deer Park Natural Spring Water (Nestle), EWG grade = D

6.     Ice Mountain Natural Spring Water (Nestle), EWG grade = D

7.     Ozarka Natural Spring Water (Nestle), EWG grade = D

8.     Poland Spring Natural Spring Water (Nestle), EWG grade = D

9.     Zephyrhills Natural Spring Water (Nestle), EWG grade = D

10.  Crystal Geyser Natural Alpine Spring Water (CG Roxane), EWG grade =  F

Filtered tap water received the best grade (an A) from EWG because if you change your filter regularly, EWG says it is purer than bottled water, plus it saves money (bottled water can cost up to 1,900 times more than what flows from your tap). Drinking tap water also takes less of a toll on the planet. EWG offers plenty of tips for filtering your tap water so that you can drink the healthiest water possible.

[Related: Giving up bottled water saves a shocking amount of money]

What should you do when bottled water is your only option? “While our top choice is filtered tap water, when you do need to choose bottled water, we recommend brands that tell you what’s in the water and that use advanced treatment technologies like reverse osmosis and micro-filtration,” says Houlihan. Advanced treatment technologies remove pollutants that other methods don’t. You should look for bottled water products that tell you where the water is coming from and how pure it is.

Here are the results for all 173 bottled water brands included in the report. You’ll find that some less popular brands rank even lower than our list of top-sellers.

The advice to drink filtered tap water can seem confusing when there are often reports about the contaminants found in municipal water supplies. Just last month, for example, EWG announced that cancer causing hexavalent chromium (chromium-6) is in 31 cities’ tap water. Houlihan says chromium-6 is as likely to be in your bottled water as it is in your tap water and we need action from the federal government on this. She points out that a reverse osmosis filter can remove the worrisome contaminant. You can guarantee its removal in your home supply, but in many cases you don’t know what’s in the bottle you’re drinking from.

*Sales rankings from the Beverage Marketing Corporation.


What’s In Your Bottled Water – Besides Water? 2011 Bottled Water Scorecard | Environmental Working Group

published by 2011 Bottled Water Scorecard | Environmental Working Group. Please visit the site to download the complete report and check your bottled water brand.

Pure, clean water.

That’s what the ads say. But what does the lab say?

When you shell out for bottled water, which costs up to 1,900 times more than tap water, you have a right to know what exactly is inside that pricey plastic bottle.

Most bottled water makers don’t agree. They keep secret some or all the answers to these elementary questions:

  • Where does the water come from?
  • Is it purified? How?
  • Have tests found any contaminants?

Among the ten best-selling brands, nine — Pepsi’s Aquafina, Coca-Cola’s Dasani, Crystal Geyser and six of seven Nestlé brands — don’t answer at least one of those questions.

Only one — Nestlé’s Pure Life Purified Water — discloses its water source and treatment method on the label and offers an 800-number, website or mailing address where consumers can request a water quality test report.

The industry’s refusal to tell consumers everything they deserve to know about their bottled water is surprising.

Since July 2009, when Environmental Working Group released its groundbreaking Bottled Water Scorecard, documenting the industry’s failure to disclose contaminants and other crucial facts about their products, bottled water producers have been taking withering fire from consumer and environmental groups.

A new EWG survey of 173 unique bottled water products finds a few improvements – but still too many secrets and too much advertising hype. Overall, 18 percent of bottled waters fail to list the source, and 32 percent disclose nothing about the treatment or purity of the water. Much of the marketing nonsense that drew ridicule last year can still be found on a number of labels.

EWG recommends that you drink filtered tap water. You’ll save money, drink water that’s purer than tap water and help solve the global glut of plastic bottles.

We support stronger federal standards to enforce the consumer’s right to know all about bottled water.

Until the federal Food and Drug Administration cracks down on water bottlers, use EWG’s Bottled Water Scorecard to find brands that disclose water source, treatment and quality and
that use advanced treatment methods to remove a broad range of pollutants.

 

The Business of Bottled Water: An “Obsession” with a Price

The Business of Bottled Water: An “Obsession” with a Price.

Books: Peter Gleick Answers Questions About His New Book, Bottled and Sold

By Eliza Barclay

for National Geographic News

Published June 14, 2010

This story is part of a special series that explores the global water crisis. For more visit National Geographic’s Freshwater website.

Everyone needs water, and in much of the developed world, they get it—virtually for free. Yet companies have made a big business out of selling water products to people with ready access to safe, clean tap water.

The effects of the bottled-water movement have been devastating, not just on wallets but also on the environment, says Peter Gleick, one of the world’s foremost experts on sustainable water use and winner of a 2003 MacArthur “genius” grant. In his first book for the general public, Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water, Gleick explores the skillful marketing that made bottled water such a success, the myth of “clean” bottled water, and the surprising toll it has taken on our environment.

(Read more about the book on the NewsWatch Blog.)

National Geographic News writer Eliza Barclay recently spoke with Gleick, who is co-founder and president of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security in Oakland, California.

What do you think is the most groundbreaking aspect of this book?

There were all sorts of things about how bottled water is monitored and tested and marketed that I found fascinating. It was really a lesson in how private companies are able to turn a public good into private product.

The bottom-line question for me was, how is it possible that we can be convinced to spend so much money on a commercial product when the same product is available usually a only few feet from where we might be sitting? The four reasons why I think people buy it are the fear of tap water, the convenience of bottled water, the disappearance of water fountains from public spaces, and aggressive marketing and advertising. The most difficult one is the growing concern consumers have about the quality of tap water.

What was the most bizarre thing you learned while researching this book?

The most bizarre stories have to do with strange claims made for some products—the ones with the molecules magically rearranged or that have enhanced oxygen—claims that are completely unjustifiable by science. This shows some degree of failure by the federal agencies that are supposed to protect us from false advertising.

And I don’t know if this is bizarre, but the entire life cycle of plastic bottles entails very serious environmental consequences that customers don’t really understand or know. There are huge energy costs in making plastic bottles, treating and filling them with water, and throwing them away.

If consumers knew [about these costs], consumption would go down. In some ways PET [polyethylene terephthalate, the plastic used to make many bottles] is pretty good plastic—it’s great for packaging food, it doesn’t leach nasty chemicals, and it’s completely recyclable. But there’s a big difference between recyclable and recycled. Probably 70 percent of plastic water bottles are never recycled, so that’s a very serious solid waste problem.

You mention in the book that sales of bottled water dipped for the first time in many years in 2008. Do you think they will continue to drop?

I don’t know what will happen with sales. It depends on a lot of things. It depends on how effective education is to move people away from bottled water. I believe there is more and more awareness of the problems and about how good and crucial the alternatives usually are. If we can continue to address successfully the reasons people buy bottled water, sales will continue to go down.

What do you think about the state of tap water in this country?

Consumers are increasingly worried about it. Some of that worry is legitimate, and some is unnecessary. Mostly in the U.S. we have very high-quality tap water, water that most of rest of world would love to have. But it’s also true that our tap water system is not as good as should be or could be. We should be investing more money installing state-of-the-art water purification systems everywhere and getting rid of old pipes and bad distribution systems that add bad things to clean water. It’s cheaper than relying on bottled water.

The older the city, the more likely it will have an old, leaky distribution system that might add contaminants. But some of the oldest cities in the country have wonderful systems. San Francisco delivers incredibly high-quality water. Having said that, every city should look for those pipes and parts of distribution system that are bad and replace them. This isn’t magic; we know how to solve these problems.

Do you think we take tap water for granted?

We tend to trust the government to do its job, or the private sector to do its job. And mostly our tap water is perfectly safe. Ironically for tap water, when there are problems, the public hears about it right away because there’s prompt public notification. This is a good thing, but it makes the public worry about tap water quality when doesn’t need to.

And as you say in the book, there’s no guarantee that bottled water is any better, right?

When we actually look carefully at bottled water quality, we often find problems. I found a hundred examples of bottled water recalls, many of which were never publicized. Those are just the ones found with very little monitoring. If we monitored bottled water as frequently as we monitor tap water, we’d see more and more problems.

One of your final chapters looks at the effort to produce “ethical” bottled water—water with a lower environmental impact and whose sale supports charity groups. I noticed that most of the “ethical” bottled water companies you list are in Europe. Is Europe ahead of the U.S. on bottled water?

Europe is way ahead in regulation of bottled water and requires clear, informative labels on their bottles. One of problems with the bottled water industry in the U.S. is that labels are incredibly uninformative. They don’t typically tell us where water comes from or how it’s treated or what’s in the water.

What about bottled water in developing countries? What if a government is a long way away from investing in water infrastructure?

There are many places in the world where you have to drink bottled water because safe and reliable tap water is not available. Mexico is good example. High bottled water use there is a symptom of a failure of the government to provide. It’s incredibly inequitable. The rich will buy bottled water and the poor will drink dirty tap water, and kids will get sick. But the answer is not bottled water for everyone—the long-term answer has got to be safe and affordable tap water. The poor are never going to be able to afford bottled water.