Water Use and Conservation on Illinois College Campuses: The Ripple Effect

Boneyard Creek, Grainger Library, Mechanical Engineering Lab on the Bardeen Quad at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ISTC and the Illinois Green Economy Network (IGEN) are partnering to train college faculty and staff to conduct water audits on their campuses, increasing knowledge about water on college campuses, and furthering ISTC's goal of reducing water consumption in Illinois by one billion gallons. In the first phase of a three-phase program, IGEN co-hosted a webinar with ISTC to educate interested colleges on the basics of water audits. Many Illinois colleges participated. The webinar covered the following information:

  • Details of what a comprehensive water audit encompasses: the built environment, the campus landscaping, and the local topography/watershed.
  • Where to find specific information on water use on a college campus: what bills, what departments have information, what is metered, etc.
  • Potential benefits of water audits: how to save money, water, and energy, and the environmental impacts
  • Overview of the next phases of the program and how to participate.

In the second phase, IGEN will arrange regional training sessions at several campuses to train stakeholders on how to conduct a comprehensive water audit on their campus.   Attendees will also bring resources, information and expertise back to the college. Two workshops are now being planned for the spring.

In the third phase, colleges will conduct water audits on their campus and make recommendations that will reduce water consumption on their individual campus and includes project costs, savings (H2O and $) and ROI.  The colleges will be asked to engage with departments across their campuses and tie students into the water auditing process. They also work with local businesses that may donate services to help in the process.
It is anticipated that IGEN and/ or individual colleges will then use these recommendations to form the basis for future funding requests.

In addition, IGEN will work with each college to help engage and educate students, staff, faculty, and their local communities about the lessons learned, and how these multiple stakeholders can take those lessons and implement water efficiency measures in their homes and communities.

Nate Keener, Director of Sustainability at Lewis and Clark Community College, will be the lead for IGEN for this project.