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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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%.
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.