Water Use Reduction Milestone Achieved

Pitt achieved Pitt Sustainability Plan goal to reduce campus-wide water use 3% by 2020 from a 2017 baseline.

The Pitt Sustainability Plan designates over 60 goals for the University to accomplish — and in 2020 another one was achieved!

Set in 2018, one of the University’s “Water Systems” goals was to reduce campus-wide water use 3% by 2020 from the 2017 baseline.  At the time, campus-wide water use was not decreasing on par with the University’s larger 2030 Challenge goal to reduce water use 50% below regional baselines by the year 2030.

However, once setting the goal, Pitt not only achieved the 3% reduction by 2020, but surpassed it, with a 10.1% reduction in water use consumption between FY17 and FY20.  Combined with a reduced on-campus presence, Pittsburgh campus water use decreased again in FY21, showing a 24.1% reduction in water use between in FY21 from FY17.

Since 2017, the University has invested in several approaches that have reduced water use campus-wide, including:

  • Implementing a process to investigate water use aberrations and possible water and steam leaks.
  • Installing low-flow plumbing fixtures that reduce water use by 30% each.
  • Investing in efficiency projects at the University’s chilled water plants.
  • Upgrading bathroom water fixtures across campus, including in Litchfield Towers and the Cathedral of Learning.
  • Pursuing multiple LEED building certifications, which incorporate water efficiency efforts in major renovations and new building projects.

While Pitt Facilities Management has been diligently focused on reducing water use across campus, it must also be noted that both fiscal years 2020 and 2021 were impacted by the global Covid-19 pandemic response.  FY20 includes 3.5 months of immediate pandemic response and FY21 saw many fewer people on campus due to the pandemic.

Interested in water use across campus? Explore our interactive water usage intensity dashboard for information by building and campus-wide.