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Concordia's drinking fountains go green

Renovations to fountains will greatly reduce campus reliance on bottled water.
June 15, 2011
By Anne-Marie Curatolo

As the summer weather continues to heat up, drinking fountains at Concordia will undergo a green transformation.

After a year of analysis, design and planning, 144 of the university’s 235 fountains are set to be upgraded in July to accommodate reusable drink containers. The project, which will span a three-year period, came to fruition after extensive assessment by a team of administrators and students. Several public forums were also held to obtain feedback from the Concordia community.

The drinking fountains
Sustainability Coordinator Mariam Masud tests out a pilot version of the “bottle-filler” fountain in the Hall Building. The drinking fountain initiative is a partnership between the students of the university and the Office of the Vice-President, Services (including Facilities Management and Sustainable Concordia). | Photo by Andrew Dobrowolskyj

Buildings with heavier traffic, including the Henry F. Hall Building, the John Molson School of Business, and the Engineering, Computer Science and Visual Arts Integrated Complex will be the first to undergo renovations.

The initiative, which reinforces the decision to phase out sales of bottled water in vending machines, will replace more than 50 drinking fountains with a “bottle-filler” model. Some of these will use sensors to automatically refill bottles placed on a ledge. The remaining drinking fountains will be retrofitted with gooseneck faucets that produce a slender stream of water.

The decision of whether to replace or retrofit the fountains currently installed on both campuses depends on many factors. Sustainability Coordinator Mariam Masud cites the Hall Building as an example. “The fountains there are 45 years old and it would likely cost more in the long run to retrofit them, as opposed to replacing them entirely,” she says. Masud adds that the assessment phase was lengthy as all 235 fountains were evaluated individually.

Staff, faculty and students are being encouraged to report any problems with the new fountains, such as spillage. “We’re going to track work orders, including the number of cleanups, and follow up with users,” says Daniel Gauthier, Building Performance Coordinator for Facilities Management. “The project involves an ongoing assessment to plan for the renovation of more drinking fountains after the initial 144 have been completed.” At this later stage lower-traffic buildings, including the university’s many annexes, will be targeted.

Masud notes that the project is one of many to promote responsible consumption of water at the university. Even Chartwells now serves water by the pitcher. Other examples include the installation of low-flow fixtures and an upgraded heating and ventilation system that requires less water. 

The university has begun incorporating these features in newer buildings. “Facilities Management has modified the standards so that any time a renovation is performed on campus, the water fountain aspect is kept in mind. This means that an area with a kitchenette will get an in-sink filtration system, possibly eliminating the need for a drinking fountain altogether,” says Masud.

Related links:
•    “Vending Machines to Be Bottled-Water-Free” - NOW, April 6, 2011
•    “Concordia Hosts Open Forums on Water” - NOW, February 1, 2011


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