October 25, 2014

LIVING GREEN: New CVU water bottle fountains another step to lower the school’s carbon footprint

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By Brandon O’Connell

Champlain Valley Union High School

 

New water bottle filling stations have started to appear around the halls of Champlain Valley Union High School.

CVU recently installed two new Elkay EZH2O bottle filling stations. These new EZH20 fountains make reusing and refilling easier and quicker—set down your reusable water bottle under the sensor and the fountain quickly fills it three times faster than an average fountain.

Over the past few years, CVU has made serious efforts to reduce the school’s carbon footprint, but with the installation of these fountains, CVU will also be providing students with cleaner, healthier and tastier water. “Not only are we saving plastic, but students are also drinking healthier water,” said Kurt Proulx, director of maintenance. “These new fountains and filters pull out particulates, mineral deposits and rust from typical pipes. These filters also counteract the chlorine in the treated Hinesburg water.”

Elkay guarantees safety and cleanliness with its “Silver Ion Antimicrobial Product Protection.” Selected plastic components are integrated with Antimicrobial Silver Ion, which inhibits the growth of common bacteria, molds and fungi that cause stains, odors and product deterioration.

The need to reduce water bottle waste has become a priority. According to the Washington Post, “Americans went through about 50 billion plastic water bottles in 2006. The recycling rate for PET is only 23 percent, which means 38 billion water bottles go into landfills each year—more than $1 billion worth of plastic.”

It is obvious that the need to cut down is apparent and schools are a perfect place to start. Many schools have already adopted dramatic changes, including the University of Vermont. UVM was the first public university in the country to end the sale of bottled water on campus. It has not sold plastic water bottles on campus since January 2013.

“Students advocating for an end to sales of bottled water have dedicated many hours over the past four years encouraging fellow students to change their habits and persuading administrators to foster a more sustainable beverage system for the community, said Gioia Thompson, director of the Office of Sustainability at UVM.

UVM provides safe, clean drinking water with its 75 new retrofitted fountains and water bottle fountains. Though CVU has not adopted this bottle ban, it has made drastic efforts to cut its carbon footprint as well.

“We have been working to lower the carbon footprint since 2005,” said Proulx. “This effort started with the transition to a wood chip heating system with natural gas backup boilers. We installed variable speed hot water pumps that can be easily slowed and sped up based on weather conditions. We also retrofitted all the lights to lower electricity by about two thousand dollars a month.”

A very cool feature of these new fountains is that it visually keeps track of how many bottles it has eliminated the need for. Every 20 ounces it fills it adds a bottle to the ticker. Both fountains combined have saved over 11 thousands bottles of water at CVU.

According to Proulx, these fountains cost $500 and about $100 for yearly maintenance, which mostly consists of buying a new filter.

These new fountains in the halls represent CVU’s ongoing initiative to recycle, reuse and lower the schools carbon footprint. The new fountains are here for a purpose. CVU offers numerous opportunities for teachers and students to help better the school and environment. It is now the students’ and the teachers’ responsibility to help out. Help reuse and try out the new water bottle fountains.

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