KEARNEY – The University of Nebraska at Kearney will soon have 12 new water-filling stations – a move to encourage students to use fewer plastic bottles.
The hydration units allow students to refill water bottles. Each station features a sensor that turns on a stream of filtered water, and a counter that tells students how many bottles have been saved through the use of the water-filling stations.
UNK currently has three water-filling stations on campus, with the first installed in 2013.
“We definitely have reduced the amount of plastic bottles being used on campus,” said Jen Kacere, complex director. “In the first six months, we saved almost 16,000 water bottles in Mantor Hall.”
The student-driven project began in 2012 when a group of UNK students from the Residence Hall Association attended a conference at the University of Colorado Boulder. The students noticed water-filling stations all over the Colorado campus.
Inspired by the university’s efforts to reduce plastic bottle waste, the students came back to UNK on a mission to make the campus more sustainable. The Residence Hall Association immediately began collaborating with UNK Facilities.
“They don’t use any more energy than a regular water fountain,” explained Toby Badura, utilities services manager. “Some of our water fountains had to be changed anyway because of ADA compliance.”
In 2013, Centennial Towers West was undergoing renovations and needed handicap accessible water fountains. With the support of students, Residence Life decided to invest in UNK’s first hydration unit. Soon after, students living in Mantor Hall requested a hydration unit. That water bottle filling station was installed in January 2014.
A third unit was also installed in the Boost Market in the Nebraskan Student Union. Students can buy a water bottle for $10 in the market and refill their water bottle for free for the rest of the school year. The Boost Market is operated by the Nebraska Book Co. and Neebo, which is UNK’s textbook, apparel and accessories company.
The first three hydration stations – which cost $600 each – were paid for with student fees. The 12 new water stations are being paid for by student government, Residence Hall Association and Residential Life and individual departments.
To further encourage students to use refillable water bottles, all students living in residence halls receive a new water bottle at the beginning of the school year.
With more student interest in the hydration stations, student government collaborated with the Residence Hall Association to install the stations in more buildings on campus.
Hydration stations are being installed this summer in the College of Education building, Fine Arts building, West Center, Copeland Hall, Cushing Coliseum, Memorial Student Affairs Building, Calvin T. Ryan Library, Centennial Towers East, Men’s Hall, Randall Hall, University Residence North and University Residence South.
Source: Jen Kacere, 308.865.4806, firstname.lastname@example.org
Writer: Sara Giboney, 308.865.8529, email@example.com