Students, Staff Collaborate To Reduce Water Use

In a residence hall that houses 700 students, imagine how shorter showers could reduce campus water use.

That’s the idea behind a water conservation project that was implemented this spring at NC State’s Bragaw Residence Hall.

The Division of Academic and Student Affairs (DASA) and the NC State Stewards, a sustainability student leadership program, partnered to install educational shower timers in 50 suites along the north side of Bragaw Hall. By the time students return for the fall semester, shower timers will be in nearly 100 suites.

The project began last year when then-student and NC State Steward Maxwell Littlefield received a grant from the NC State Sustainability Fund to install shower timers in Bragaw Hall. After Littlefield graduated, Martina Gonzalez Bertello of the NC State Stewards began managing the project.

Bertello teamed up with Sean Fokes, the energy engineer for DASA, to launch a small pilot in five Bragaw Hall suites. They found that after the residents began using a shower timer, water use in the suites declined by 20%.

The timers are multi-use, showing users the length of their shower as well as air temperature and humidity. The timers are solely educational; they do not cut off water or change to cold water after a predetermined amount of time.

“It’s just a little beeper. It’s a suggestion- ‘Hey, time’s up! You should get out of the shower now,’ but ultimately it’s up to them,” Bertello said.

Bertello has found that the timers are a simple solution to reducing water consumption by simply raising awareness of water use. In the future, she hopes the project can be implemented throughout West Campus and perhaps in all university residence halls.

“Hopefully this [project] will help bring awareness to how little an act can help reduce water,” Bertello said. “It really doesn’t take much to help.”