Green Gown Awards 2015 Facilities and Services - Emory University, USA - Finalist

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The WaterHub – Emory University’s Innovative Leadership in Water Reuse

The WaterHub on Emory University’s campus in Atlanta, Georgia is an on-site water recycling system, utilising ecological systems to reclaim wastewater for heating and cooling campus buildings and toilet flushing. It is the first system of its kind installed in the U.S. and can supply nearly 40% of Emory’s total campus water needs.

It meets the triple bottom line of sustainability by relieving an over-burdened municipal system that has a history of sewer overflows, saves Emory money over time, reduces its use of potable water by up to 400,000 gallons-per-day and provides a living laboratory for research and teaching.

Atlanta is the largest municipality in the U.S. reliant on the smallest single water source for its drinking water. The WaterHub will reduce Emory’s use of drinking-quality water from Atlanta’s municipal water supply by up to 146 million gallons of water annually, thus leaving more water for the community.

Top 3 learnings

1 Before an institution/ organization/ company begins discussing the option of constructing a wastewater treatment and reclamation plant on its property, it is imperative to understand its total water footprint and water demands. The total water footprint includes potable water consumption, wastewater generated, and the recycled water use opportunities. It is advisable to take all of this into account before a project like the WaterHub can be implemented

2 It is crucial for the success of the project to engage campus and community stakeholders as early and as often as possible. Wastewater reclamation is a very unique undertaking and a relatively unknown initiative, especially on a university campus.  Therefore, it is recommended to practice open and frequent communication because it will affect the project success. In particular, faculty input played an important role in the design of the WaterHub and led to features such as a lab desk, sampling portals, and room for class tours

3 In addition, it is suggested to involve and incorporate operations staff in the design phase of a wastewater reclamation facility on a university campus. This collaboration helps to ensure smooth transition of the recycled water to the end-use locations and eliminates the potential of future adjustment procedures.

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