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On- and Off-Campus Solutions: Sustainability Accelerator Program

Launched in early 2017, this project tests solutions to challenges related to climate change, water and energy interactions within the built environment.

Compelling evidence reveals that washing hands in hot water in all instances is unnecessary and does not significantly reduce bacteria. However, this remains a common practice in many cities worldwide. Evidence points towards the potential for energy savings, since cold water usage requires less energy than warm or hot water, and the need for policy change supporting energy savings and carbon emissions reductions.

The project is testing the removal of hot water from university buildings in three GCSO locations: King’s College London (London, UK); Dublin City University (Dublin, Ireland); and, Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ, USA). It is a transdisciplinary collaboration including operational experts, researchers, students, regulatory officials, policymakers and other members of society. In addition to quantifying energy and cost savings, the project analyzes perceptions and attitudes around the use of hot water for hand washing, in order to design strategies to promote behavior change leading to more sustainable outcomes.

The project has three goals: (1) successfully pilot the innovative experiments in three locations that measure energy savings and behavior change; (2) promote the adoption of evidence-based policy, changing outdated and ill-informed regulations that require provisioning of unnecessary hot water in public buildings; and, (3) develop a toolkit of good practices and methods that can be applied to other waste-water-energy issues in a broader societal context.

In year two, the tried and tested solutions in the pilot locations will be transferred and adapted to other universities and beyond the campus setting to municipalities. Participation will be scaled out via the GCSO member institutions and their respective city administrations. The solutions ‘toolkit’ will continue to be improved through an iterative process of additional testing and evidence-based modifications.

GCSO Participants:

Arizona State University (ASU) Dublin City University (DCU) Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM) King’s College London (KCL) Leuphana University Lüneburg (LUL)
    Niko Schäpke, Institute for Ethics and Transdisciplinary Sustainability Research, LUL
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)
    Luis Gutiérrez Padilla, Department of Sustainability Projects, UNAM