Find Events Find People Find Jobs Find Sites Find Help Index


December 11, 2000

New building means more (water) savings

Alexandra Adams is a student in environmental studies.
(Editor’s note: This is the first installment of a new column devoted to environmental
issues on campus and steps the University is taking to address them.
Anyone wishing to contribute a 500-word column for consideration should
call 404-727-0645 or send e-mail to

Local residents know water shortages well, but this year water was scarce even by Atlanta standards. However, innovative projects at Emory are turning water conservation into a regular feature of life and work at the University. From collecting 2.5 million gallons of condensate per year to using storm water for irrigation, it’s all happening here.

If the Whitehead Memorial Research Building appears to be a building of the future, that’s because it is. Now under construction at the corner of Clifton and Michael streets, Whitehead will be equipped with cutting-edge water conservation technology. Piping systems will capture condensate from the mechanical equipment and send it to the Michael Street Parking Deck, where it will be deposited into cooling towers.

“Two-and-a-half million gallons of water is lost in condensate per year, and it just goes into the sewer,” said Laura Case, associate project manager for Facilities Management. “Now we can capture that water.”

The cooling towers use a large amount of water because much of it evaporates. This new system will take all of the lost water and redirect it to the towers; and saving 2.5 million gallons annually is substantial. “It is the amount of water 100 people use in a year,” said Jen Fabrick, director of campus planning.

According to Case, rainwater that would ordinarily be added to the problem of storm water runoff is now being utilized for irrigation. “We built an underground vault—but made it deeper and bigger so it could hold more water,” she said. “The rainwater is stored in the underground vault and is connected to pumps and timers, just like a regular irrigation system.” This method of water collection will be used for both Whitehead and Science 2000.

“This could potentially supply the whole science building area with irrigation year-round through storm water,” said Scott Wheeler, staff architect at Cooper Carry, designer of the Science 2000 project.

Many of Emory’s new building projects incorporate the Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) system into their design. A rating system of the U.S. Green Building Council, the LEED program evaluates environmental performance from a whole building perspective, offering the standard for a “green” building.

“We can bring down water usage to meet LEED requirements,” said Wheeler, adding that the University also will be utilizing drip irrigation, a water-saving method for irrigating

The LEED assessment is based on sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, environmental quality, materials and resources, and design excellence. Because water is a large part of the LEED assessment and a big issue in Atlanta, meeting LEED requirements for water conservation is a high priority for Emory.

“With the Campus Master Plan and President [Bill] Chace’s attitude of environmental responsibility on campus, as we’ve begun new projects and generated budgets for projects, [we’ve decided that] now is the time to build into those projects the ability to address environmental issues,” Fabrick said.


Back to Emory Report Dec. 11, 2000