Going green

Newly-enacted water sustainability initiative intends to reduce waste, starting in underclassman dorms

Waynesburg University recently received a grant to begin implementing new eco-friendly fixtures to bathrooms in underclassmen dorms as a part of a new environmentally-conscious initiative aimed to reduce water consumption.

Ryan Smith, assistant director of student activities, who has had a passion for environmental causes since high school, has been leading the transition to a more sustainable campus.

“I want to live an environmentally friendly life and I strive every day to use fewer resources,” Smith said.

This personal goal has led to Smith offering green initiatives on campus, his latest being to reduce the water usage at the university. Smith has been a maverick in terms of environmental thinking on campus.

“To me, I think we can change out water fixtures, recycle more and question why we’re doing things the way we’re doing them,” Smith said.

In his endeavor to reduce water usage, Smith applied for and received $4,350 of funding towards environmental projects on campus from the Center for Service Leadership. This allocation will fund the initial changes to fixtures on campus, which will include aerated faucets, eco-performance shower heads and dual-flush green toilet handles.

The initial change is happening in Burns Hall, which is acting as a “prototype” to see the direct impacts that the fixtures have on water usage Smith said. Burns Hall was selected because, unlike other underclassmen dorms, it is completely on its own water bill, providing Smith with the most accurate data possible on the potential impacts of the fixtures.

Assisting Smith in the task of renovating the bathrooms is Terry Sattler, director of Facilities Planning and Management.

Sattler commended Smith for the initiative and recognizes both the environmental and potential long-term financial impacts of the new bathroom fixtures. Water is a two-fold expense for the university since there are costs for both the water itself and disposing of the sewage.

“It is a double bang for us to conserve any amounts of water on campus,” Sattler said. “We save on our water bill and we save on our sewage bill.”

Though the fixtures will drive down water costs in the future, Smith emphasizes that finances are not the sole motivation for the updates.

“The university isn’t being cheap; they’re just trying to save water,” Smith said.

Though the changes seem small, the impacts on overall water usage are significant. The dual-flush green toilet handles cut what is 3-5 gallons of fresh water being used per flush down to just 1.6 gallons.

Smith, in preparation for these changes, calculated the average Burns Hall resident uses approximately 50 gallons of fresh water every single day. This equates, over the course of a month, to about 200,000 gallons of fresh water used in Burns Hall alone.

“A developing country doesn’t use as much water in a month as we use in one day,” Smith said. “It’s a scary statistic.”

Smith plans on recording the data of water usage in the dorm before and a month following the fixture updates, and using that data to propel towards future grants in order to implement greener bathroom updates to all underclassmen dorms.

His goal is to reduce 10,000
gallons from the typical 200,000
gallons used in Burns Hall every month.

Since these changes are set to take place in the bathrooms, it allows each resident of the underclassmen dorms to help the environment.

“The goal is to save water and save resources and to be environmentally friendly, and what is great that everyone can be a part of this,” Smith said.

As Smith continues to personally strategize green initiatives, he sees the need for the campus to participate in order to see change.

“There is not one person who is in charge of sustainability on campus, which makes this fall under everyone’s responsibility,” Smith said. “Everyone needs to take it upon themselves.”