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Students Help Campus Water-Saving Efforts

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Six Cal State Fullerton students have collaborated with the University’s Facilities Operations to save precious water resources — and at the same time, learned valuable lessons from the effort.

They are members of PowerSave, a student-led initiative that is part of the Alliance to Save Energy, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., that promotes energy efficiency worldwide through research, education and advocacy.

The group works closely with all members of the campus community in an overall effort to inform, learn and help in projects that save energy, says Josh Chanin, a senior chemistry major and just promoted senior team manager in the group.

Members of the team were involved in last year’s Take Back the Tap campaign, an effort to encourage students to use reusable water containers and tap water, instead of plastic bottles that are used once and thrown out. As a result, the campus is installing a number of refill fountains throughout campus. The latest installation is located on the northeast corner of the Clayes Performing Arts Center near the Quad.

The CSUF group will be honored for their campuswide sink audit and aerator retrofit project during the July 20-24 California Higher Education Sustainability Conference at San Francisco State University.

“Last summer, we started the process, measuring the amount of water — in a 15-second period — that came out of every public sink in every college building. A total of 543 sinks. The measurements were then converted to gallons per minute,” said Chanin. Lab faucets and other nonpublic faucets were not included in the audit.

“McCarthy Hall was found to have the worst levels,” said Chanin. McCarthy, he added, is the oldest academic building on campus, having been constructed in 1963. “Some of it’s faucets were measured at 2.4 gallons per minute.”

Once the audit was completed, the group partnered with Facilities Operations, working with John Villagrana to identify the type of aerators to purchase.

Villagrana was very supportive of the student efforts, noting that he enjoyed the opportunity to work with students, particularly senior civil engineering major Adrian Cortez. “Adrian was very energetic and knew what he wanted to accomplish,” he said. “We walked the three buildings — McCarthy, Kinesiology and Health Science, Humanities-Social Sciences — and he got an education on the buildings and what we (facilities operations and management) were seeking as part of our overall water reduction efforts.”

The students purchased 345 aerators. Facilities operations did the installations and was able to complete replacements in all three target buildings, as well as the Visual Arts Center.

Currently, aerators are being replaced in an additional four buildings, Villagrana noted. “We’re also starting to install meters to measure water use in specific areas of the campus.”