The Catholic University of America

Jan. 28, 2009

CUA Students Reduce Water Usage by 15 Percent
Residence Halls Compete to be Biggest Loser in Eco-Challenge

After three months of taking shorter showers, turning off the faucets while shaving or brushing their teeth, and reporting leaking plumbing fixtures for repair, CUA students in seven residence halls have reduced water usage by almost 15 percent.

From September through December 2008, residents in Ryan, Regan, Spellman, Centennial Village, Conaty and Millenniums North and South competed with each other to see who could be the biggest loser when it came to water usage.

CUA's first Water Eco-Challenge was organized jointly by CUA's Green Club and the Office of Energy and Utilities Management. The campaign sought to educate residents about the harmful environmental affects of wasting water, as well as the easy ways students could help curb their usage.

While one residence hall - Millennium North - won the challenge, the entire university is reaping the benefits, thanks to the efforts of students in seven residence areas. Cumulatively, the students used 1.1 million fewer gallons of water compared to the same time period one year earlier.

"This shows that our students are paying attention to taking care of the environment," says Brian Alexander, who directs the Office of Energy and Utilities Management. Alexander notes that the conservation measures reduced the university's water bill by almost $9,000 for the quarter, providing a fiscal benefit beyond water conservation.

"It's the little things that add up," Alexander says. "A competition like this shows that if you educate students about what they can do for the environment, they'll take action."

Millennium North reduced water usage by 26.5 percent, followed by Millennium South with an almost 20 percent reduction in water usage. Spellman and Conaty were tied for third place with 17.4 percent less usage.

Future eco-challenges are already in the works. Alexander hopes to host an electric eco-challenge between the dorms in the spring to reduce electricity consumption, with another focusing on natural gas in the fall.