Water, Water Everywhere: University Housing Will Save Resources and Energy With Conservation Project
Student housing at California State University, Dominguez Hills has become a little greener this semester thanks to a new program of the region’s water district, West Basin Municipal Water District.
A ribbon cutting ceremony, held last week at University Housing, celebrated the completion of the project.
The facility was selected as the pilot project for West Basin’s Green Living for Apartments and Condos program,
one of the many projects created from $681,000-worth of grants aimed at water conservation awarded to the
agency by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD). A unique conservation collaboration, the program partners with South Bay Environmental Services Center, Southern California Edison and Southern
California Gas Company to also provide energy conservation measures.
The university’s student housing complex—made up of 22 buildings with 164 one-, two- and three-bedroom units—
provided a perfect model for this innovative program that brings water and energy saving measures to multi-family
buildings. Approximately 550 students reside in University Housing.
Through the pilot project at the university, contractor Bottom Line Utility Solutions Inc. replaced 224 toilets
and 164 showerheads. The new, high efficiency dual flush toilets use on average .9 gallons per flush, as opposed
to the older three- and five-gallons-per-flush models that had been in the apartments. The new showerheads use
1.5 gallons per minute (GPM). This means a more than 50 percent savings in water usage in the housing facility, or up to
3.4 million gallons saved annually.
As an added component to this project, Metropolitan Water District has agreed to provide the university with
faucet flow restrictors, which will provide even more water savings. Students living in the university apartments
will also receive conservation education literature.
“What [this project] actually does is present an opportunity for us to educate the young people who attend Cal
State Dominguez Hills, to reach out and further educate the community on the need for conservation, which cannot
be highlighted enough in the state of California,” said Ronald C. (Ron) Smith, member of the West Basin Board of
Directors. “You’re leveraging the knowledge of the importance of conservation and you’re doing that by reaching
out to young minds, young people who are moldable and understand the concept that we’ve got to look at our resources
and be good stewards of those resources. We have an educational component that will complement what we’ve done
here and that’s going to be a regular part of their thinking, their mindset and their lives.”
The replacement of the showerheads with low-flow models will realize energy savings as well by having to heat
less water. Additionally, Southern California Edison is supplying up to nine CFLs bulbs per unit. Energy cost
savings from the CFLs and reduced water heating is estimated at $100,000.
President Mildred García noted that the savings in dollars, water and energy will substantially benefit University
Housing, which receives no state funds and is run solely on rent from resident students and accommodations for
conferences and events on campus.
“In water savings alone, this initiative at Dominguez Hills will save 3.4 million gallons annually, or half of
student housing’s water usage,” said García. “In regard to electricity savings, it will reduce the amount of
energy our students will use by more than 50 percent.”
“The University Housing community is delighted to have been part of this pilot program,” said Kaveh Razaghi,
director of University Housing. “This is a giant step for us in helping the campus lower its consumption of water,
gas and electricity, which in return will also save us thousands of dollars in cost each year. It’s also a wonderful
education opportunity for our students.”
The replacement of older, less energy-efficient devices in University Housing is one of many sustainability measures
CSU Dominguez Hills has plans to implement. A similar project through a separate MWD grant has already replaced all
showerheads and urinals on the main campus (more than 100 each) with low-flow models. Other proposed projects include
installation of irrigation control sensors tied to weather conditions, replacement of potable water with recycled
water in the university’s water towers, and proposals to modernize the campus’s electrical utilities and construct
a co-generation plant, which along with a solar panel system already in place will mean the university will produce
all the electricity for the campus on site.
West Basin’s Green Living for Apartments and Condos Program will reach more than 77,000 multi-family dwelling units
in West Basin’s service area and 10,000 dwelling units in the City of Torrance. The potential water savings through
the program is 65 million gallons and 462,480 kWh of electricity over the life of the devices.
This project is part of West Basin’s Water Reliability 2020 Program, in which West Basin will reduce the area’s
dependence on imported water from northern California and the Colorado River from today’s 66% down to 33% by the
year 2020. For more information, click here.
At the ribbon cutting, García expressed her thanks to the assembled officials, community members, and students by
saying that the project aligns with the CSU Dominguez Hills’ goal of becoming the “model urban university of the
nation.” She described another educational water conservation initiative on campus, which brought a “Discovery Garden”
to the Child Development Center to teach young children about native plants and water-wise gardening, with the
support of the California Water Company and the Lego Foundation.
“We could not be the model urban university of the nation without speaking about energy and water conservation and
being green,” she said. “We have such a great diversity, where no single ethnic group is in the majority. We have
learned from our Native American brothers and sisters that we must respect our environment if we are going to continue
to leave [it] to our children.”
“CSU Dominguez Hills looks forward to continuing our work with West Basin and other corporate and city partners,”
she continued. “Together, we will help advance our campus and region with new opportunities to reduce the carbon
footprint, help the environment and provide an eco-friendly learning community.”
- Amy Bentley-Smith and Joanie Harmon
Photo above: Members of the campus and local community cut the ribbon on a newly installed water and energy-saving project in University Housing.
L-R: Mayor Jim Dear, City of Carson; Kaveh Razaghi, director, University Housing Services; President Mildred García; Ronald C. (Ron) Smith, member of the West Basin Board of Directors; and Jackie Bacharach, excutive director, South Bay Cities Council of Governments
Photo by GK