Hydration station helps save almost $100,000; amount dispensed would fill 65,000 plastic bottles

UHWO Green Tracker Water Filling Station

UHWO Green Tracker Water Filling Station

Almost $100,000 has been saved by UH West Oʻahu students, faculty, and others in the three years since a hydration station was installed on the ground floor of the E building.

As of Sept. 8, the “Green Tracker” water dispenser dispensed 8,852 gallons of filtered water, or the equivalent of 65,000 of the 16.9-ounce plastic water bottles sold in vending machines across campus. The amount of water dispensed is roughly equivalent to the amount carried by a semi tanker truck, which typically holds 9,000 gallons.

It’s also estimated the dispenser has kept more than a ton of plastic containers out of Hawaiʻi’s environment and limited landfill space and saved users $97,250.

The Green Tracker triple-filtered dispenser was installed on July 30, 2014 and was funded through an Office of Naval Research Grant as part of the University’s establishment of a STEM center. Waterlogic, the manufacturer of the dispenser, notes there are multiple savings achieved through its products, including less energy expended making water bottles, reduced carbon footprint, less space needed for storage of plastic bottles, and lower landfill costs for governments.

Dr. Rick Jones, an Associate Professor of Education, wrote the grant that allowed the purchase of the machine and filters.  He said the $1,400 machine exceeded expectations in the water dispensed and savings produced.  Besides obtaining the grant, Jones also maintains the dispenser, emptying its drip tray three times a day, replacing filters every 3,000 gallons, and monitoring its output.

He also keeps data on the machine, which he says helped the UH West Oʻahu campus decide on installing other water-filling stations elsewhere on campus. The Elkay quick-fill hydration stations have helped avoid at least 37,500 plastic bottles entering the waste stream, according to electronic counters on the face of the dispensers.

As of Sept. 11, a filtered-water station on the Library’s ground floor had filled the equivalent of 16,151 plastic bottles, while a ground-floor station in the C Building was at 10,848 bottles.  A similar station on D Building’s second floor had helped avoid the use of 10,620 plastic bottles.

Image courtesy of Julie Funasaki Yuen