Jan 13, 2021 Steps Toward Saving Water
Living in one of the nation’s most arid states, water conservation is always a hot topic. That’s what students in the Business Scholars program were thinking when they came to the Marriott Library with a proposal to install waterless urinals in one of the men’s restrooms.
The project was entitled “Build a Better U.” Ethan Black, a junior majoring in Finance and minoring in Management, and John Haraden, a junior majoring in Finance and Mathematics, were presented with a challenge: identify a problem on campus and then find a solution.
Ethan and John discovered the U was one of the largest water consumers in the state. “We determined that we could help reduce this consumption,” explains John. They researched potential solutions and concluded that the use of waterless fixtures can significantly contribute to water conservation. “We ran with the idea. After many sleepless nights and considerable amounts of research, we presented our findings to several key stakeholders at the U.”
“I liked the idea right away. We’re always looking for ways to conserve and the students’ project could provide proof of concept for the rest of the library and campus.”
– Ian Godfrey, Assistant Dean for Facilities and Operations at the Marriott Library
Ian Godfrey, Assistant Dean for Facilities and Operations at the Marriott Library, was contacted by Ethan and John with the concept. “I liked the idea right away,” says Ian. “We’re always looking for ways to conserve and the students’ project could provide proof of concept for the rest of the library and campus.”
Ethan and John spoke with Klaus Reichardt, founder/CEO of the company “Waterless” and inventor of the waterless urinal, as well as Emerson Andrews, Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund Manager at the U’s Sustainability Office. Explains Ethan, “With their support and assistance, we presented our idea to the Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund (SCIF) to secure funding for our project’s trial run.”
Why the Marriott Library?
“We wanted to expose our project to the harshest conditions possible (high usage and foot traffic) to determine its feasibility and the additional strain, if any, that would be placed on the facilities staff,” says Ethan. “If our concept works in the library, we believe these fixtures will prove feasible for use throughout the campus as a whole. We are very focused on the long-term feasibility of our project.”
- The library has played a pivotal role in the realization of numerous prior student initiatives, such as the water bottle filling stations. Given the library’s role in those projects’ success, the students felt confident about the level of support provided and knew that the library was the best location.
- High usage and foot traffic on level one of the library makes for easier data collection.
- Placement on level one in the library exposes students to the project, as it is a central point of congregation.
- The restroom piloting the waterless urinals are located just outside the maintenance office, allowing for constant review of the urinals’ functions, maintenance and cleaning needs, usage, and potential malfunctions.
Estimates on Water Conservation
- Roughly 1.5 gallons of water are saved per use, per fixture.
- Over 40,000 gallons of water are saved per year, per fixture. The aforementioned figure is based upon conservative estimates of 270 useable days per year, and 150 flushes per day, per fixture.
- One bathroom (consisting of four fixtures) saves roughly 162,000 gallons of water per year.
- There are 36 public fixtures located in the Marriott Library; switching all 36 to waterless would save just under 1.5 million gallons of water per year.
John comments, “The silver lining is we now expect to see progressive growth in the usage from now until our campus is fully reopened after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. This will allow us to determine if there is a point where the waterless technology becomes inefficient or unsustainable. We believe that the current circumstances will allow for a more detailed and thorough review of the fixtures’ feasibility at different usage rates. And eventually we hope to see more waterless urinals across campus because that will mean that the project was successful and the U is saving water.”