Thursday, October 7, 2010

Water Conservation: DePaul offers water bottle refill stations on campus

As part of DePaul’s sustainability initiatives and help reduce its carbon footprint, DePaul recently installed water bottle refill stations both in Lincoln Park and the Loop Campus. These water bottle refill stations help reduce the number of plastic water bottle waste that will end up in landfills, which is estimated to be eight out of ten water bottles purchased in the U.S. In addition to helping to decrease waste, the refill stations will also help in reducing energy consumption, as it is estimated that production of plastics account for 4% of energy consumption in the U.S. Upon further research of the DePaul’s installation of the water bottle refill station, I discovered that DePaul has installed 15-21 stations between the Loop and Lincoln Park Campus, at high traffic areas. The refill stations are part of Facility Operations efforts for water conservation, and are also sponsored by the Student Government Association, as part of funding provided to the association for pro-environmental projects.

The water bottle refill stations are extremely easy to use as they are controlled by an electronic sensor that will detect when a water bottle has been placed under its water refill dispenser. What is attractive about these water stations is that the water is filtered, appealing to those who do not like water from the fountain, or faucet because of taste or quality. Water bottle drinkers sometimes prefer to purchase disposable water bottles because taste and dislike for tap water. The filtered water allows for those concerns to be diminished. The ELKAY EASY H20 Station, like the stations that have been installed at DePaul, refills up to 3000 gallons of water per each replaceable water filter installed in the unit. In addition, the refill station provides a count of the number of times the unit has refilled a water bottle, providing a picture of how many water bottles have been prevented in ending up in a landfill. The number of refills is indicated by a ticker with a label that reads: “Helped eliminate waste from XXXXX disposable plastic bottles.” According to a Bob Janis, Vice President for Facility Operations, the refill stations have already provided over 20,000 refills as part of a 2010 DePaul Sustainable Highlights document. Another great feature of the Elkay refill stations is they are easily attached to existing water fountains on campus, helping to reduce purchase costs without having to replace complete units.

DePaul is not the only university in the country helping to eliminate water bottle waste by installing water refill stations on their campus. Universities such as Penn State and New York University have installed water refill stations on their respective campuses and have become a huge hit. Next time you are thirsty and walk by the 14th floor of the Lewis Building or the 11th floor of the DePaul Center, reach for your reusable and environmentally friendly water bottle and refill it at the local water refill station.

Image Source: Elkay Commercial Products

Posted by: Julio C. Puentes


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