WaterSense at Work: Best Management Practices for Commercial and Institutional Facilities
A.8 University Makes the Most of
Onsite Alternative Water Sources
Case Study Highlights
Number of occupants:
students and nearly 24,000 faculty and staff
acre campus with 17 million square feet of building space
University of Texas at Austin has focused on recovering
and reusing water from onsite alternative sources to serve non-potable water
needs. Retrofits include using air handler condensate, single-pass cooling
water, rainwater, and foundation groundwater for cooling tower make-up
water and lawn irrigation.
Reduced potable water use by more than 33 percent and
saved more than 1.6 billion gallons of water in total since the program began
in the 1980s.
$7.5 million since the program’s inception
Once the largest water-using entity in the city of Austin, the University of Texas at
Austin (UT Austin) has been implementing programs to reduce its water use for three
decades. Although UT Austin continues to expand its campus, its comprehensive
water conservation program has resulted in declining water use over the years.
The 400-acre campus, comprised of 17 million square feet of building space, serves
approximately 51,000 students and nearly 24,000 faculty and staff. The campus
includes administrative offices, academic lecture buildings, dormitories, research
laboratories, cafeterias, museums, libraries, athletic venues, and industrial facilities.
UT Austin has focused on recovering and reusing onsite alternative water sources in
these facilities to serve non-potable water needs around the campus.
Single-Pass CoolingWater Recovery
Historically, UT Austin used single-pass cooling to supply chilled water for dormitory
drinking fountains. Water was used to cool the drinking fountain chillers, then sent
down the drain at a rate of 1 gallon per minute (gpm), 24 hours per day, 365 days per
year. In addition, several pieces of laboratory equipment used single-pass cooling.
Recognizing this opportunity for water savings, UT Austin installed a network of PVC
pipes within existing underground tunneling to send the single-pass cooling water
as make-up water to the campus’ cooling tower. All onsite alternative water sources
directed to the cooling tower are now collected through this piping system.