New WaterFilz kiosks are being installed in the three newest academic buildings on UBC’s Okanagan campus. The kiosks provide fresh, free, filtered water to students, faculty and staff who bring their bottles to the stations located in the university’s new Arts and Sciences II building, and eventually also the Engineering, Management and Education building, and the Health Sciences Centre, currently under construction.
“The new water kiosks complement those already installed in University Centre and Science buildings,” says Jackie Podger, Associate Vice President, Administration and Finance, noting that installation of the new units was made possible by a partnership between the Sustainability Office and UBC Students’ Union Okanagan.
“This initiative is an important example of our commitment to sustainability,” says Podger. “Our new kiosks provide high-quality drinking water for the campus community, save energy, and show how working with our students can produce effective solutions to very real sustainability challenges.”
Among the benefits of the new kiosks, the units help reduce plastic bottle waste generated on campus, notes Leanne Bilodeau, Director of Sustainability Operations.
“While we divert most of this waste from the landfill through our refundables recycling stream, digital counters on the stations will enable us to track the number of plastic bottles saved from entering the system, which is the ultimate goal.”
The units, which purify and cool the water, use only 12 watts of electricity in their ultraviolet purification stage. When the custom-designed refrigeration unit is running to cool the water to 38 degrees F, it only requires 46 watts of power versus vending machines that can draw more than 1,500 watts of power.
“The new meters on the machines are encouraging students to reduce the impact on the environment and fill up the bottle, rather than purchase a bottle that is rebranded tap water,” says Spencer Robins, Services Coordinator for the UBC Students’ Union Okanagan. “Students have been overwhelmingly receptive to these new systems going in on campus.”
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