UNLV and Chapman University join the hydration station trend

Hydration stations are getting installed at several higher ed institutions to promote campus health

With the world’s population consuming 1 million plastic bottles per minute, hydration stations are popping up at several colleges and universities to promote environmental consciousness and healthfulness on campus.

University of Nevada, Las Vegas began in 2011 installing stations where students can fill their reusable bottles with filtered water that’s free and cold.

The first station, located in a building in the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration, became a hotspot for many outside the hospitality department, says Monica Garcia, sustainability coordinator at UNLV.

As a UNLV student, Garcia led a group of her classmates in partnering with nonprofit Food & Water Watch to educate the campus community about both the benefits of hydration stations and the dangers of worldwide water bottle usage.

The students, working with mentors provided by Food & Water Watch’s Take Back the Tap campaign, created a matching fund for station installation. Monetary support from the finance office and matched by other departments has since allowed the university to place 90 stations around campus.

And starting in the fall of 2017, students can win prizes for using the stations.

With a mobile app from Cupanion, students can scan individualized stickers on their bottles each time they refill. The app will award points that can be redeemed for prizes such as beverages and restaurant gift certificates, and it will also keep track of campus consumption.

Chapman University first installed a hydration station on its southern California campus in 2010. Hydration stations cost about $3,000 per unit, and installation can run the facilities department between $6,000 and 7,000, says Mackenzie H. Crigger, Chapman’s energy conservation and sustainability manager.

Water stations are now included in every new Chapman building, but the campus’ 10 historic buildings have forced facilities staff to innovate.

“Many of the older buildings’ walls aren’t wide enough for components of the chiller, so some are installed in the ceiling,” says Crigger. “The more challenging installations encourage our plumbers to be very creative in their work.”

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