In the great scheme of sustainability, the focus is often put on a couple specific areas that are the edgier go-green movements. Concepts like oil, alternative energy, and recycling seem to get all of the headlines. In a lot of ways, this makes sense. The impending oil crisis is ever present in our lives, particularly in America where oil consumption is seen at its global height. And recycling is one of the simplest to understand and most tactile of the go green options around us daily, and can be seen in most arenas in one way or another. But one of the biggest parts of sustainability is also one of the most frequently overlooked: water. A big reason for this oversight is the fact that we take advantage of the of water because, to us, unlike like something like fossil fuels, there seems to be a never-ending supply of clean, fresh water available to us. We turn the water off when we brush our teeth and take shorter showers, but what many people don’t realize is the impact of water on almost every aspect of our daily lives, and the impact of our daily lives on water.
For starters, how much water does one person actually use in their everyday activities? Well for starters, to produce one cup of coffee, it actually takes 140 liters of water; producing 1 egg takes 200 liters; one slice of bread takes 40 liters. Think you don’t use all that much water? You just used 380 liters of water, and that’s just after breakfast! Now if you’re a meat eater, the numbers are about to go up. It takes 15,500 liters of water to produce 1 kg. of beef. However basic improvements such as installing low-flow faucets and shower-heads can reduce water consumption of a given home or building by about 18%, and repairing a dripping faucet can save as much as 20 gallons of water every day!
In light of how involved in all of our lives really is, the University has set out to do what it can to save it! In 2010, retro-commissioning of existing buildings reduced hot water consumption by 5,752 mmBtu and steam consumption by 494 mlb. And for the University, payback on these improvements is about 8 months.
Written by: Grace Interlichia, Class of 2014