The University of Alberta has been steadily improving water efficiency in its operations for decades. We have made conserving water a priority across our campuses.
New and newly renovated buildings at the university are designed with sustainability as a top priority. Water-efficient features include motion sensors on water taps and low-flow fixtures. Triffo Hall, for example, has waterless urinals in the men’s washrooms.
The university has retrofitted all campus residences with flow restrictors in the showers. We have also installed water dams on the toilets in the residences and are gradually replacing the toilets with low-flush models.
The university uses state-of-the-art cleaning equipment. This equipment uses 33 per cent less water than traditional cleaning techniques, which saves between 60 and 70 thousand gallons of water each year.
The ground-breaking scientific research that happens at the university often requires a lot of water. The university has systems in place to improve water efficiency in labs. For example, we have upgraded the chilled water distribution systems in our buildings so less domestic water is used to cool research equipment. Vacuum pumps running on compressed air rather than water are installed in the Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science and other locations.
The university uses xeriscaping principles (techniques used in dry climates to conserve water) in landscape design and construction to produce the most water-efficient system.
The university has many systems in place to collect and save water to use on the grounds and in the gardens:
- Flower planters across North Campus collect and conserve water in reservoirs.
- Rainwater and runoff from Triffo Hall’s roof is collected and stored in a below-ground storage system. The water is used for toilet flushing and irrigation.
- A cistern near the Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Science recovers up to 25,000 gallons of treated water that would otherwise be lost when testing the university’s fire-retardant sprinkler system.
- Augustana campus uses a 1,500-gallon storm holding tank to conserve water and reuse it to water plants and trees across campus.