Brown will consider the water footprint of the entire campus as the University moves toward a reduction in water use and an increase in water quality for the campus and the catchment into which Brown’s wastewater flows.
Freshwater resources are increasingly threatened by overuse and pollution. Before it is consumed, fresh water must be purified or chemically treated — processes that are highly energy- and materials-intensive. Downstream from Brown, wastewater requires treatment before being released into Narragansett Bay. As urban settings are increasingly paved over, the increased stormwater runoff — which contains pesticides, fertilizers and other pollutants — adds to the burden on treatment plants. During severe storms, these plants can be overwhelmed, leading to the release of untreated wastewater and raw sewage into the bay.
Brown is committed to reducing its impact on water quality by lowering consumption and managing stormwater runoff to reduce pollution from pesticides and fertilizers.
Brown has already made significant investments in water-use reduction, including buildings with grey water recycling and green roofs, as well as recovery systems that capture and reuse condensation created by HVAC systems. In the dining halls, the elimination of trays has reduced the amount of water used for washing. In 2014, Brown’s building codes were updated to include low-flow fixtures, and Brown in 2017 developed a Stormwater Master Plan to help inform campus development in a way that does not increase stormwater runoff by reducing impervious surfaces.