Law school nixes water coolers in push to go green

Law School Water Fountain
The GW Law School is trading its water coolers for new faucets and filters in an effort to discourage bottled water consumption. Jordan Emont | Assistant Photo Editor

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Monica Mehta.

The bottled water jug has long served as an icon for an office break room, but the GW Law School is removing bottled water jugs from its offices and replacing them with new water filters.

The law school cut back its bottled water jug delivery after installing bottle filler spouts on drinking fountains. Filter spigots were also added to the building’s gooseneck waterspouts.

“We want to be greener and healthier,” Hank Molinengo, associate dean for administrative affairs at the law school, said. “Our goal is that we don’t want any bottled water in any building of the law school.”

The law school administration is also trying to cut back on water bottles offered to guests.

One of the goals of the GWater Plan was to reduce direct expenditures on bottled by 50 percent in the next five years. This includes reducing money spent on water bottles and bottled water jugs in offices.

Molinengo estimated that half of all waterspouts in law school buildings have the new filters.

“We are also working to remove old water fountains that are not compatible with the new filters and installing new fountains,” he said.

The energy required to produce, transport and dispose of plastic bottle jugs contribute to their large environmental footprint.

“Most bottled water is actually filtered tap water, and many bottled water companies are removing valuable water resources from local communities and bottling it for sale,” Sophie Waskow, project facilitator for the Office of Sustainability, said.

The filler spouts on water fountains and the new water filters both have one-time costs for installation, while bottled water delivery has a number of ongoing costs, including fuel surcharges, delivery fees and a charge per bottle.

Waskow declined to give the overall cost of the new hardware or the expected long-term savings.

“There is some ongoing maintenance required, but it is significantly less expensive than the bottled water delivery,” she said.

The Office of Sustainability is working with other offices on campus to install similar water filtration systems. The 5th and 7th floors of Rice Hall currently have an in-line water filtration system, which provides filtered water by hooking into the existing water line. This type of filtration may also be tried in other offices on campus, she said.

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