in the Shower
Julie Colatrella ’12
At a school like Smith, where
those who carry plastic, brand-name water bottles feel like
a scrutinized minority, sustainability is a major issue.
We have environmental scavenger hunts and sustainability
video contests—even our
convocation went “green.” At Smith, students passionately
police their light bulb purchases, food waste, and even (sometimes)
toilet flushing habits in an effort to conserve.
But a recent
sustainability initiative on campus translates into water
conservation even in the most intimate of spaces: the shower.
That’s right. Nearly every showerhead
in every house on campus—500 new installations—has
been replaced with a new low-flow model in a project overseen
by Frank Perman, plumbing and heating supervisor in facilities
The total cost of the project
was $40,000, but the conservation benefits are substantial.
Three million gallons of water will be saved per year because
of the new showerheads. And because shower users will use
less hot water, the college will also save on heating bills
In only one year, the college
will have redeemed the initial cost of the project through
Some students may be nostalgic
for the retired shower heads. “You could adjust
where the water pressure went, so it was like a free deep
muscle massage,” reminisces Katrina Dugan ’11J about
the old, inefficient showerheads.
But most students are ready
to accept the loss of their liquid masseuse in exchange for
environmental friendliness. “We have
nice, hot showers here, and if it’s saving all that water,
it’s definitely worth
it,” says Emily Fuller ’12.
only water conservation that we are concerned with at Smith.
(After all, this is the college that has a table devoted
to light bulbs at Central Check-In, more signs in bathrooms
that remind you to turn off the lights than ones that instruct
you to wash your hands, and motion sensors that make entire
rooms go black if no one budges for long enough.)
In an effort
to be more energy efficient, the college replaced old power
strips with new, more efficient models in the Campus Center,
the offices of facilities management and college relations,
and other buildings. The recently opened Ford Hall also has
the power strips.
As a result of the project,
which cost $10,000, a total of 125,000 kilowatt/hours will
be saved per year. Payback on this investment will take six
months to one year.