New water fountains save money, energy

The installation of five new, energy efficient, water fountains in the Curris Center began late this past March and will be completed by the middle of April.

Of the five, two are high/low units with bottle filling stations, one single unit with a bottle filling station, and two standard single units. All together, the units cost the University $5,000.

The fountains have energy efficient compressors that will save the university a small amount of money in energy costs and, for the short term, maintenance costs. The bottle filling stations could bring down the amount of disposable trash on campus and affect the cost of waste removal. The biggest savings are in the pocket of the user, who will have the option of refilling a water bottle instead of buying disposable bottles.

Bottle filling stations are becoming typical in new construction projects as businesses try to become more efficient and meet new environmental standards.

The fountains replaced units that were put in when the Curris Center was originally built in 1981. The new water fountains new ADA standards, and are listed in GreenSpec, a website that catalog building materials that are considered green by GreenSpec’s own criteria and also meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards.

The units with bottle filling stations include the new WaterSentry® Plus Filter, which meets ANSI/NSF standards and reduces lead in drinking water. These units are made in the United States, are three times faster than a standard drinking fountain, and have electronic sensors keeping the station touch-less and sanitary.

Similar water fountains were installed in Elizabeth College during the renovation in 2012 and the new basketball practice facility this year. The fountains in Elizabeth College show thousands of uses per each unit since they were installed last year.

Popular student support of the new units is what pushed to fruition the installation of the fountains in the Curris Center. Re’Nita Avery Meriwether, the Curris Center director sent the request to Facilities Management because of pressing from the student body.

Kim Oatman, chief facilities officer at Murray State, said, “The bottle fill stations greatly minimize the disposable plastic bottle volume in the waste stream.”

Plastic disposable bottles take over 700 years to decompose, pollute water sources, and require the use of finite oil when made. The amount of oil used to make the number of disposable bottles in the world could fuel 1 million cars for a full year.

Oatman said the plan is to replace older units as they fail or as buildings are renovated with the bottle filling stations. The new stations will become the new standard for Murray State water fountains installed in the future.

Staff Report.