As part of the Sustainability Plan, the University has a goal to reduce the consumption of potable water for purposes that do not require it. The University has implemented a variety of water conservation measures, including smart irrigation systems, and encourages the use of harvested water whenever possible. For example, in 2015, the University of Chicago installed a system of automated controls and a 120,000-gallon stormwater storage vault to be used for both stormwater detention and water reuse. The smart control system allows stored water to be evacuated in advance of a storm. When a storm is forecasted, the valve opens to drain a calculated volume from the tank, freeing storage space to capture the pending rain event. The valve closes before it begins to rain and remains closed for the duration of the storm. Once the storm has passed, the tank retains the harvested rainwater for use in the landscape.
In 2018, the University's first water profile was completed. The profile outlines potable water use consumption by fiscal year and by building for the Hyde Park campus for 2013 through 2017. Information from this analysis will be used to identify and implement additional water conservation measures.