Creating a more Sustainable Campus: Water (part 2)

Water saving programmes at Griffith University

Griffith University

Water is one of the 7 critical issues being discussed at the upcoming Rio+20 summit in Brazil. According to the Rio+20 website, by 2050, at least one in four people is likely to live in a country affected by chronic or recurring shortages of fresh water.

In a previous blog, we looked at how a growing number of campuses are choosing to Ban Water Bottles on Campus. In part 2 of this two part series, we look more broadly at a range of initiatives that business schools are taking part in to reduce the amount of water used on campus and raise awareness about issues relating to water.

Reducing water consumption

Griffith University encourages students to report dripping taps and water leaks to facilities management. The University also monitors, records and reports its water usage for the purpose of benchmarking and as a way to identify water saving opportunities. One of their campuses has 12 rainwater tanks that store over 200,000 litres of water, another building harvests water condensate from air conditioning to use in irrigation. Rainwater is harvested and used for toilet flushing in all new buildings.

The new building that houses the Walter E. Heller College of Business Administration at Roosevelt University is designed around “green” principles and is LEED-certified, which verifies use of sustainability principles in key performance areas, including site selection, water efficiency, energy efficiency, materials and indoor air quality. Illinois State University has installed multiple stormwater management features on campus, including a rain garden, two bioswales (designed to remove silt and pollution from runoff water) and three parking lots with permeable concrete. Grenoble Ecole de Management is implementing a range of water saving measures, including the use of reclaimed water in the sewage waste system and timed water faucets. Kyung Hee University School of Management green management practices include water-efficient landscaping in and around business school buildings and a rain-saving system in the school’s newest building.

Through the curriculum and research

The University of Wisconsin Whitewater provides a range of courses in the MBA programme focused on water issues, including one called Blue and Green Marketing, which looks at the effective marketing of water and other sustainability products and services. Babson College provides a course focused on sustainable entrepreneurship in Norway that focuses on drivers of opportunity in the energy domain and examines ways that new ventures are applying technologies in wind, water, solar and alternative fuel.

A wide range of case studies and research with a focus on water have also been developed by business schools around the world. At ISAE/FGV, a case study on cultivating a good water programme looked at the Itaipu Binacional, the largest dam in the world, situated on the border of Brazil and Paraguay.

What is your campus doing to minimize the use of water? Share your projects in the comments area below.

Creating More Sustainable Campuses: Water (part 1)

2012 Wang Center Symposium “Our Thirsty Planet”, Pacific Lutheran University

Water is one of the 7 critical issues being discussed at the upcoming Rio+20 summit in Brazil. According to the Rio+20 website, by 2050, at least one in four people is likely to live in a country affected by chronic or recurring shortages of fresh water.

The business sector, through the production of goods and services, impacts water resources – both directly and through supply chains. Increasing demand, water scarcity and unsustainable supply, and decline in water quality all provide businesses with a range of water related risks. In response to this, the UN Global Compact created the CEO Water Mandate in July 2007, a unique public-private initiative designed to assist companies in the development, implementation and disclosure of water sustainability policies and practices. The water mandate covers six elements: direct operations, supply chain and watershed management, collective action, public policy, community engagement and transparency. Companies who commit to the mandate also pledge to disclose, via an annual report, how they are implementing the Mandate’s elements.

There are quite a few tools available for companies who want to measure their water performance throughout the value chain and better understand and identify water related business risks and impacts, including the WBCSD Global Water Tool, GEMI Water Sustainability and the WFN Water Footprint. We are also currently in the International Decade for Action “Water for Life” (2005-2015) and every year, World Water Day is celebrated on March 22.

In a previous blog, we looked at how a growing number of campuses are choosing to Ban Water Bottles on Campus. In this two part series, we look more broadly at a range of initiatives that business schools are taking part in to reduce the amount of water used on campus and raise awareness about issues relating to water.

Raising awareness

In association with the Dubai Water and Electricity Authority (DEWA), the University of Dubai conducted a workshop on conservation of water for students, faculty and staff in 2011. Officials from DEWA emphasised the need for water conservation and showed different methods for implementing them.

The Faculty of Economics at the University of Ljubljana organised a green round table around the topic of ‘Water and our Adjustments to Climate Change’. The round table involved noted professionals from fields of expertise on protecting water resources and social responsibility.

The Green Initiative at the Institute of Productivity & Management is focused on making the campus greener and more environmental friendly and includes a green agenda that looks at using water resources more sensibly.

Student Initiatives

Students at Pacific Lutheran University voted to impose a $20 annual fee upon themselves to improve water quality, and the University has banned bottled water sales. During a recent international case study competition at John Molson School of Business, students pushed the “Lug-a-Mug” campaign. All attendees were provided with reusable mugs to reduce the use of disposable drinking cups. The University of Victoria has a university wide Revolving Sustainability Fund for students and staff interested in organising energy and water saving projects on campus.

What is your campus doing to minimize the use of water? Share your projects in the comments area below.

Creating more sustainable campuses: Banning Water Bottles

Over the past few years, there has been a growing trend of universities banning the sale and purchase water bottles on campuses, in particular in North America, but also internationally.

In 2009, Concordia University* and McGill University launched TAPthirst chapters with the goal to eliminate bottled water from their campuses, and the University of Winnipeg became the first in Canada to end the purchase and sale of bottled water on campus after students initiated a referendum. With the highest voter turnout in years, three quarters of students voted to eliminate the sale of bottle water on campus.

In total, there are 14 Canadian Universities who have banned bottles on campus, all through student led, campus supported campaigns. Others have set out plans to go bottle free over the next couple of years, including Queen’s University,* which has outlined a detailed plan to go bottle free in 2012.

The University of Toronto announced on November 14, 2011 its efforts to stop the sale of bottled water on campus. At the beginning of this academic year, bottled water was no longer available at the majority of locations on campus with plans to phase out the rest over the next three years. Instead, students and faculty have access to new fountains and water refill stations. In order to raise awareness on campus, the school year started with OnTap, a university wide event that included a scavenger hunt where students had to follow clues to identify and locate all of the water fountains on campus.

This past March, on World Water Day, the University of Canberra was the first in Australia to ban the sale of water bottles on campus. As an alternative, they put in place water vending machines that refill a 600ML container with chilled water for $1 or sparkling water for $1.50, much cheaper than bottled water. They have also put in place a range of new refill stations on campus. The whole campaign, again initiated by students, started off as just one day aimed to raise awareness about bottled water.

In the US, 9 schools have banned the sale and purchase of plain bottled water on campus, but many more have started campaigns around the issue. To raise awareness, students at the University of Maryland* took plastic bottles out of trash cans around campus over a two hour period and used them to construct a five foot tall statue. Students also organized a Tap Water Challenge where students, faculty and staff were invited to take a blind taste test to see if they could tell the difference between bottled and tap water.

As part of the I ♡ Tap Water campaign at UC Berkeley, students tested more than 450 water fountains on campus to ensure water quality. Through various public awareness activities, they were able to reduce plastic water bottles on campus by 25%. American University* is upgrading 100 water fountains to include a bottle-friendly faucet. Brown University took their campaign online with their Beyond the Bottle campaign led by student group emPOWER.

In the UK, Leeds University* was the first to ban in 2009 following a student referendum that won 2/3 of the votes. There was an anti-campaign at the time to keep plastic bottles on campus but it lost the vote. This past October, a discussion started online about whether the ban should be removed, but students rejected the idea.

A lot of schools, rather than banning water bottles outright, are mounting educational campaigns to inspire a voluntarily increase in the use of tap water on campus and also increase the amount of recycling of plastic water bottles. UNSW* in Australia put in place Envirobank reverse vending machines in 2010, which allow students and staff to insert empty PET plastic bottles in exchange for ‘Crunch Credits’ or instant win coupons and prizes.

* PRME Signatory

Have you or are you thinking of banning water bottles on campus? Do you think banning bottled water is a good thing or not? Please share your experiences in the comments area below.

For more information:

%d bloggers like this: