During the 2011 fiscal year, RIT used 181,554,000 gallons of water. On campus, water is used for a variety of purposes in kitchens, bathrooms, labs, and on the grounds. As such there are a lot of opportunities to reduce water consumption as well as improve water quality. All new and renovated buildings are constructed with low flow water fixtures on sinks and toilets. In residence halls and apartments, fixtures include dual-flush toilets, low flow showerheads, and ultra low flow faucet aerators.
Water is also the medium through which buildings on campus are heated and cooled. Non-chemical water treatment systems have been installed for the main west side chiller plant and six other evaporative towers. This eliminates chemicals evaporating into the atmosphere and chemicals going to the sanitary system. RIT is currently working on reusing this water for irrigation.
Stormwater runoff results when water from rain or snow melt does not percolate into the ground, and instead flows across impervious surfaces (turf, lawns, streets, parking lots, roofs, etc.) into the nearest water body. As the water “runs off” the land, it accumulates debris, chemicals, sediment and other pollutants that can negatively impact water quality and aquatic ecosystems.
RIT’s campus is situated along the Genesee River and amidst almost 200 hundred acres of wetlands, making storm water management extremely important. There are three primary methods that RIT is currently using to address stormwater.
There are currently two installations of permeable pavement on campus. With the redesign of Gleason Circle, pervious concrete was integrated into the design. The water percolating through this installation drains into the adjacent rain garden, providing an additional opportunity for water filtration. This was the first application permeable pavement on campus.
The second is in lots G and H. When these lots were expanding during the summer of 2011, strips of porous asphalt were installed as part of the project to address stormwater.
The renovation of Perkins Green Apartments presented an opportunity to use a landscaped eco swale to capture and treat the 1.2 million gallons of stormwater run-off coming from the building roofs and parking lots in the area each year. Integrated into the swale are varying sizes of rocks to aid in filtering particulates and a variety of hydrophilic plants (water-loving) many of which can be found in the natural wetlands on campus. The project received an honor award from the American Society of Landscape Architects.
A second eco swale was installed as part of the Gleason Circle redesign project. It provides treatment for approximately 600,000 gallons of run-off per year. 38 species of native plants were used in the project.
Green Roofs and Rain Water Harvesting
Building roofs have traditionally been designed to get rainwater off of them quickly and into the storm sewer. In RIT’s newer construction projects we are going against this tradition and are installing green roofs and collecting rain water for reuse. The roof on Engineering Technology Hall (ENT) pitches inward directing rainwater to the center of the roof, through the vegetated portion of the roof and down to the basement into two 1500-gallon cisterns. That water is used to flush toilets in the restrooms. Rainwater is also used to irrigate a vertically landscaped wall in the lobby that enhances the space and improves air quality as well.
The green roof on ENT utilizes a tray system that includes a lightweight planting medium and a variety of sedums. A second, more intensive green roof can be found in the Global Village on top of the Cantina and Grill. The grasses on this roof are planted in soil, which also serves as added insulation for the building.