Facility and Efficiency Improvements Concerning Water Conservation for a Healthy School Environment

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WaterSense: An EPA Partnership Program

watersense - meets epa criteriaWorks with irrigation professionals to promote water-efficient landscape designs and practices as well as works with manufacturers, retailers and distributors to bring more water-efficient products to the public. The website describes the program, its accomplishments and ways to get involved, including Water Conservation Plan Guidelines.

Why It's Important

  • Schools use a tremendous amount of water every day for heating and cooling systems, restrooms, drinking water faucets, locker rooms, cafeterias, laboratories and outdoor playing fields and lawns. It also takes large amounts of energy to deliver and treat water.
  • Reducing water use by adopting and promoting efficient products and practices can help communities to meet water demands, save energy and reduce stress on our natural resources.
  • Visit EPA's WaterSense website for more about why you should conserve water. 

What You Can Do

  • Determine the school's water use baseline with ENERGY STAR's Portfolio Manager
  • Inspect plumbing systems and perform leak audits regularly. Upgrade inefficient fixtures and irrigation processes, install water-saving devices and repair problems immediately.
  • Maximize natural vegetative cover and drought-tolerant grasses and water only when necessary (preferably during cooler times of the day).
  • Instruct teachers, staff and students to reduce excessive water consumption during hand washing and showers in restrooms and locker rooms.
  • Read the Energy and Water Efficiency section of EPA's model K-12 school environmental health program for more information.

EPA and Federal Partners

  • The Our Waters section of the EPA website links to EPA materials on drinking water, ground water, stormwater, wastewater, watershed and more.
  • EPA's Model K-12 School Environmental Health Program provides guidance for schools and school districts that are beginning to develop, or are strengthening, a school environmental health program, including the key steps for implementing a program and practical actions that schools can take to address a wide range of environmental issues.
  • The Stormwater Program of EPA provides technical and regulatory information for municipal separate storm sewer systems and construction or industrial activities. The website also links to general stormwater topics and tools.
  • Monitoring and Assessing Water Quality describes EPA's work with state, local and tribal authorities to carry out nationwide water monitoring projects.
  • How to Conserve Water and Use It Effectively on the EPA website explores a number of water use efficiency practices for both engineers who build and maintain water systems and for individuals who use water. The practices have been evaluated by many researchers and there is a growing body of literature that presents the results of many studies related to water use efficiency.

National Organizations

  • Water Conservation in Schools: Resource List by the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities offers an annotated list of links, books and journal articles on water efficiency, water recycling and plumbing issues in school buildings and grounds.
  • The American Water Works Association is a membership organization that offers some of the most current, applicable water conservation and efficiency materials available. Some materials are available to nonmembers.
  • Source Water Collaborative is a Web forum that gathers information and best practices to protect America's sources of drinking water. The website offers a free online tool to create a customized guide to encourage local action, enables individuals to connect with potential state or regional collaborators and links to 23 national partner organizations, including EPA.

Regional, State and Local Resources

  • Water Saving Tips for Schools and Colleges (PDF)(2 pp, 25K, About PDFby the Maryland Department of the Environment includes lists of general suggestions as well as tips for building maintenance, kitchen and laundry areas; pools; and exterior areas.
  • Stormwater—Everyone's Responsibility Every Day is a comprehensive Web-based teaching guide produced by the New South Wales (Australia) Environment Protection Authority to help teachers raise awareness and increase the involvement of students in improving the quality of stormwater. The guide includes background materials, classroom activities and a poster.
  • Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE) Resources from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality engages schools and its students in social and scientific field research to protect the Chesapeake Bay watershed.