More needs to be done to tackle climate change within the higher education sector. That is the overriding feeling following the release of data in 2019 showing that energy consumption in UK institutions increased in 2017-18 compared with 2016-17.1 And, with the leading global environment authority UN Environment warning that efforts so far by universities to become greener are ‘scattered and unsystematic’2, it’s clear that greater action is needed.
But it’s not just climate agencies and government pressure that is causing this urgency – students themselves, inspired by Greta Thunberg, have taken part in climate change strikes across the world to make themselves heard. Thanks to increased media attention on the devastating impact our wasteful society has caused on natural habitats, individuals – whether at home, work or within education – want to do more for the environment.
Of course, higher education institutes have the welfare of thousands of students to consider, which is their top priority. So how can campuses meet the daily needs of their students – both within teaching and accommodation environments – while reducing their environmental impact?
One small area that can have a big impact is a university’s drinking water facilities. Far more than just a box to tick, having access to safe, filtered drinking water ensures users remain hydrated, ultimately improving wellbeing. Estates and facilities managers want a solution that is flexible and reliable but, most importantly, environmentally friendly. The good news is that there are so many options available now that remove any need for something that has been pinpointed as the scourge of the environment: single-use plastic.
More than just something that’s building up on beaches and killing wildlife, the resources needed to produce plastic are hugely energy intensive. In fact, from having little impact on the climate just 20 years ago, the production and disposal of plastic now uses nearly 14% of all the world’s oil and gas.3
As creator of the world’s most advanced drinking water systems, Zip Water knows the importance of encouraging students to stay hydrated and provides the best mains-fed solutions available for the public sector.
Our range of industry-leading, mains-fed filtered drinking water solutions provide users with a choice of pure-tasting boiling, chilled, sparkling and ambient water at the touch of a button, thanks to its high-level filtration technology and high-performing, energy efficient systems. Having clean-tasting water on tap not only encourages users to drink more, but discourages them from buying unsustainable single-use plastic water bottles and instead refilling their own reusable water bottles.
Students will undoubtedly feel empowered by being able to personally reduce the amount of single-use plastic waste their university produces. By making plastic bottled water unavailable throughout the campus and placing mains-fed drinking water systems throughout buildings, tutors and students will have instant refill access to filtered drinking water.
With a range of products and services on offer, Zip can provide tailored solutions to meet any requirement and budget. Selected models can also help comply with equality requirements, as well as infection control. For example, our HydroTap includes features such as accessibility levers and braille covers, and our HydroChill can provide a UV Out sterilisation feature to ensure the dispensing area remains free from contamination – vital when there are large numbers of users.
If 2020 is the year you aim to make your campus single-use plastic free, contact Zip to discuss a competitive and bespoke package. Call 01362 852247 or visit specify.zipwater.co.uk/education for more information.
1 Timeshighereducation.com May 2019
2 Universityworldnews.com May 2019
3 Theguardian.com January 2020