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Harvard College Library News: News from around the libraries

HCL Plumbing Projects Conserve Water

sustainable plumbing changes

As part of Harvard's sustainability efforts, HCL has upgraded bathroom fixtures in Widener, Lamont, Pusey and Houghton libraries to conserve water.

September 16, 2009 – By itself, seven-eighths of a gallon isn’t much, but when you have dozens of bathroom fixtures that save that much water with every flush, it quickly adds up to big savings, both in water usage and in utility bills.

As part of Harvard’s sustainability efforts, Harvard College Library Operations earlier this year upgraded the bathroom fixtures in Widener, Lamont, Pusey and Houghton libraries, installing new, low-flow urinals and “dual-flush” toilets, which save thousands of gallons of water annually.

“In general, we replaced every urinal in the libraries we manage, with the exception of Tozzer,” said Andy Laplume, Assistant Director for Project/Building Systems Management. “We’ve gone from one gallon per flush with the old urinals to 0.125 gallons, so we’re saving seven-eighths of a gallon on every flush.”

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With 27 urinals spread throughout Widener, Lamont, Pusey and Houghton, the savings are quickly adding up. Each urinal, Laplume said, saves approximately 7,000 gallons every year, and several thousand dollars in utility bills across the four buildings.

More than 70 “dual flush” toilets, which allow users to select either a 1.6-gallon flush (for solid waste) or a 1.0 gallon flush (for liquid waste,) were also installed in Widener, Lamont, Pusey and Houghton, replacing toilets which used 1.6 or 3.5 gallons per flush, Laplume said.

Though not as dramatic as the savings realized through the new urinals, “whenever someone uses the 1.0-gallon flush, we are saving a little bit of water, and those will add up,” he said.

All HCL bathrooms are also equipped with metered faucets, which turn off automatically after a set time, conserving water. Bathrooms in Widener and Lamont also include hands-free paper towel dispensers – a move which reduced bathroom paper consumption by 20 percent.