University encourages more sustainable drinking options

February 9, 2012

Satisfying your recommended daily intake of eight glasses of water just got more sustainable. The University has a new water supplier and departments now have even more options for sustainable drinking water.

As a part of the new five-year campus contract with Hinckley Springs, the campus will have the choice of the following sustainable drinking water systems:

  • Point of use water line filtration units, which connect to existing water lines. These are available in standing or countertop models.
  • Filtration systems installed under sinks with filtered water delivered through an adjacent spigot.

These water delivery methods require minimal fossil fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions for delivery and produce far less waste than conventional water coolers.

Hinckley Springs will assist customers who are seeking more sustainable drinking water options. The company's product line includes Energy Star rated water filtration systems and coolers, cups that are recyclable or compostable, and product packaging that is reusable and/or recyclable. At a department's request, Hinckley Springs will assess the possibility of installing a water filtration system, a sustainable solution with potential cost savings. This spring, the company will perform a University-wide assessment for transitioning bottled water coolers to sustainable water delivery systems. Expect to hear more once this assessment is completed.

"This contract is a part of a campus-wide effort to address the environmental impacts of water consumption at the University," reports Sustainability Program Coordinator Colleen Lanier Christensen. "Students have led the way in advocating for alternatives to bottled water and our work with Procurement and Payment Services to provide sustainable drinking water solutions to campus departments complements this nicely." Facilities Services has also instituted a Policy on Bottled Water—which eliminates bottled water in all departmental buildings, meetings, and events—and many departments and student groups are making their events bottled water free.

Staff and faculty can take part in the University's efforts to reduce waste on campus by using reusable cups and mugs whenever possible. However, when disposable cups are necessary, the Office of Sustainability recommends that you choose alternatives to Styrofoam cups. Manufactured from petroleum and difficult to recycle, Styrofoam takes over 500 years to degrade and takes up as much as 30% of garbage by volume in U.S. landfills.

Please consider these polystyrene alternatives available for purchase from Hinckley Springs:

  • Bare by Solo hot and cold paper cups, which are made from recycled content and renewable resources (preferred).
  • WNA plastic cups, which are recyclable and contain recycled plastic content.

See the full contract announcement on Procurement and Payment Services' website for further detail and instructions on submitting the required purchase requisition for a new installation (CNetID log in required).

"As a department, we've been making a concerted effort to operate more sustainably," says Mark Fehlberg, Executive Director of Payroll, Procurement and Payment Services. "This extends to our supplier contracts, where we have been integrating sustainability considerations across the board, from office supplies to water delivery. Given the sheer volume of purchases made by the University, we have the opportunity to make a really big impact."