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IN TIME OF DROUGHT, RICE UNIVERSITY SAVING 12 MILLION GALLONS OF WATER A YEAR BY REUSING AIR CONDITIONING CONDENSATION, OTHER INITIATIVES
HOUSTON, TX - At a time when Texas is in extreme drought conditions, work by Rice University's Department of Facilities, Engineering and Planning (FE&P) is saving between 12 million and 14 million gallons of water this year through various initiatives, including capturing and reusing water from air conditioning condensation.


Project Managers Erik Knezevich and Bob Nguyen in FE&P have completed a condensate-harvesting initiative in the sciences buildings, including Brockman Hall of Physics, that captures cold, clean water from the air-handling units and pumps it back to Rice's Central Plant's cooling towers for use as makeup water (instead of having to buy water from the city of Houston). A similar system collecting condensate from the BioScience Research Collaborative building for use at Rice's South Plant is already operational. "When people think of conservation efforts, they think of things like shutting off the faucet when they brush their teeth, but this is something going on at Rice in the background all the time, and it has a big impact," said Richard Johnson, director of energy and sustainability at Rice.


Another conservation project was the installation of low-flow showerheads in one of Rice's residential colleges. Housing Operations Manager Mark Chaszar tested a low-flow showerhead this past year in the suite of student Christoph Meyer, and the showerhead proved to be very popular with the students. "The payback on these showerheads is literally a few months, and they provide better showers," Johnson said.

Finally, a student-led project resulted in the retrofit of roughly 100 old toilets on campus with new water-efficient toilets. The project was initiated by undergraduate Doris Lee through RESET, Rice Endowment for Sustainable Energy Technology, which supports initiatives for a more sustainable campus. Lee worked closely with FE&P Plumbing Supervisor David Mosquinski to develop a proposal, and the FE&P Energy Steering Committee provided significant matching funds to RESET to enable the project to move forward. The new toilets included a variety of dual-flush technologies as well as standard 1.6 gallon-per-flush models, all of which are considerably more efficient than the older toilets, which can use 3.5 gallons per flush or even more.

"From our various projects on campus, we will expect to save from between 12 million and 14 million gallons of water each year," Knezevich said.

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