Water conservation is a significant component of our sustainability agenda as we are located in the Intermountain West, where water availability and management is a serious concern. BYU is a leader in this area. In 2005 BYU received the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner’s Water Conservation Award. More recently, we completed a project to convert landscape sprinklers from culinary water to non-potable, ground-source, secondary water. BYU also saves water by planting the right types of plants in landscaping, and by providing only the water the plants need. Water usage in flower beds has been reduced one-third by using compost.
We have reduced the water usage from faucets and flush valves by 50 percent by using high-efficiency plumbing fixtures and appliances. Moreover, we have replaced water cooled condensers with air-cooled to reduce water consumption. These measures help to keep the environment healthy. Untreated water from the Provo River Water Rights System is used to irrigate most of the campus at great cost savings. This is the same water that is used on the south campus Stream and Trail path, a preferred recreational study location.
Additionally, sprinkling systems are designed with optimum dispersion rates and water audits are conducted to ensure ideal efficiency. Each distinctive plant material is treated with its ideal sprinkler application. Grass, shrubs, and flowers are treated separately in individual beds with the best-suited irrigation heads, including MPR rotor heads and xeri-pop heads with the least amount of wasted water and drip irrigation for the shrubs. All valves are connected to a computer irrigation system that considers all soil types, sun-orientation, wind, rain and other environmental factors allowing the plant material to thrive optimally at maximum EvapoTranspiration (ET). This is determined and managed by a central computerized system and the campus water master.
BYU uses select landscaping and outdoor furnishings that can be maintained without toxic chemicals. Outdoor lighting is designed to reduce light pollution while landscaping is designed to reduce “heat islands,” and incorporate local plant and hardscape materials. Mulch helps with weed control, reduces erosion and provides airspace and water-holding capabilities for green areas across BYU’s 320 acres of maintained landscape. All plants used are either natives to Utah or specific for the zones (2-5) for this area of the U. S. and of low water-wise definition. The Utah State Extension Service Water-Wise list and Division of Facilities Construction and Management (DFCM) standards list are used for plant selection decisions.
Employees of the Print and Mail Production Center carefully take into consideration the environment and the ecology of the community in everything they do. For example, Print and Mail has transferred the laundering of shop rags to a professional cleaner since they are better equipped to deal with the ink residues left in the rags in a safe manner. In addition, color ink sets have been replaced with a more biodegradable set of inks made from natural vegetable sources. Over the years Print and Mail has turned almost exclusively to the use of alkaline papers, which are more easily recycled.They also recycle all paper trimmings and grindings, so any and all excess paper is recycled. Employees recycle the aluminum printing plates that are used on the presses, a process that uses less energy than refining the aluminum.
Dining Services integrates locally-grown and organic foods into their menus. Food service equipment purchased since the end of 2006 is “energy rated” and uses less gas, electricity, and water than comparable models. In 2008 we took advantage of a new cafeteria, the Commons at the Cannon Center, to install dishwashers that recycle water from previous washes for early rinse cycles in the next washing. Specifically, water from the final rinse cycle is used to pre-rinse the next load. For more information, visit BYU Dining Services Sustainability.