Filtered water for meetings
In our last post we talked about the impact bottled water has on Americans’ carbon footprint. We also offered a short case study on what we did at Q Center to try and minimize the use of bottled water at meetings held here. By installing a building-wide water filtration system, we were able to provide a comparable product with minimal impact on the environment.
If you’re interested in trying something similar at your office or venue, read on. We'll share some of the benefits we’ve gained and a few lessons we learned along the way.
Why filtered water dispensers?
- Reverse-osmosis filtered water is as close to pure as you can get. The product is similar to the purified water product you’re getting in most bottles.
- You can cut costs without reducing quality. Yes, the biopolymer cups, straws and lids we use are more expensive than the conventional versions. But we save money on the labor required to stock bottled water or replace water cooler bottles. The space freed up by not storing bottles is an added benefit.
- The concern over plastic bottles in the landfill is not the only environmental issue you address. Eliminating bottles also eliminates the pollutants generated by the manufacture of plastic. Plus, you’re no longer using petroleum products to manufacture and transport both the single-serve and large water cooler bottles.
- This individual, self-serve solution is better than pitchers of ice water for several reasons. Water in pitchers can be less sanitary. Our filtration system does not allow water to be exposed to air until it’s dispensed. On the other hand, pitchers sit around for hours and collect germs. And pouring from a pitcher is risky - especially around technology.
What did we learn?
- First and foremost, find the right vendor for your situation. If the company has the right experience, they will be willing and able to save you money. They’ll know how many dispensers you need, what your capacity should be and what installation challenges you might face.
- The best solution won’t be a one-size-fits-all approach. Many vendors will base their recommendation on your average water use over a 24-hour period. You also need to think about whether you have demand spikes at certain points of the day or in certain locations. For example, in some locations we needed to be able to dispense enough filtered, chilled water for 800 people within a 15-minute meeting break.
- You can save on installation costs by using existing plumbing where possible. We installed many of our dispensers where old-fashioned drinking fountains were located.
- Be sure you have a container that will meet the needs of the users without having the same environmental impact as the water bottles you just eliminated. We offer a biopolymer cup, straw and lid. You could consider offering a BPA-free water bottle to users either free or at your cost.
What other questions do you have? Have you heard of another approach to eliminating bottled water that’s working? Leave a comment and let us know what you’re doing.