From rain gardens to educational water courses to a live green roof, Colorado College’s efforts to conserve water are not going unnoticed.
In the latest AASHE Sustainable Campus Index, CC is a top performer in the Water category out of approximately 280 other universities and colleges across the nation leading efforts in water conservation and education.
“Nowhere in the United States is water a more critical issue than in the West, and we’ve taken that issue very seriously at Colorado College,” says Director of the Office of Sustainability Ian Johnson. “Water is both a scarce resource and also a major expense. It’s also a cultural issue that we’ve worked hard to better educate our students, faculty, and staff around.”
Colorado College has posted a 47 percent reduction in total water use of vegetated grounds since 2008, CC’s baseline year.
The college’s water recovery and reuse initiative include irrigating landscape zones with Colorado Springs-supplied non-potable water, a combination of water from a local reservoir and treated domestic wastewater. Additionally, CC has started recovering grey water in the central heating plant to condense flu gas and recover heat.
CC also has installed smart irrigation systems to make sure the college isn’t watering unnecessarily. Technicians are trained to make sure the irrigation system is properly programmed and run, which has reduced water usage for irrigation.
Colorado College also has phased in efficient water fixtures as older ones have retired. Fixture retrofits have included outfitting existing faucets with low-flow faucet aerators, replacing shower heads, and replacing tank and flush valve toilets with low-flow models. In 2012, while renovating Worner Campus Center and Rastall Dining Hall, the college replaced the dishwasher that was in use at the time with a more efficient one and retrofitted toilets and urinals with low-flow units. Recently, Facilities Services updated the shower fixtures in Bemis Hall to be more efficient.
Johnson says he is energized by the top ranking, seeing the college’s intentional work and progress recognized by ranking as the top school in the nation in water use reductions based on the Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System results. Read more about the State of Sustainability Report 2019.