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Sustainability Spotlight: Water Bottles

University Recreation & Wellness (RecWell) is dedicated to reducing consumption of single-use water bottles in our facilities – starting with our own employees. In partnership with the Residence Hall Association’s Sustainability Committee, we distributed over 600 “Terps <3 The Tap” water bottles to our student employees.

When you see our student staff with these water bottles, commend them for doing their part to reduce bottled water usage.
Filtered water filling stations have been installed in our facilities, and across campus, to encourage the campus community to reuse and refill, instead of consuming single-use bottled water.

What have we done lately?

  • Installed Sphagnum Moss Swimming Pool Water Treatment System - Pool Naturally® Plus System in the two indoor pools. The moss-based water treatment system is a patented innovation that keeps swimming pools clean while using fewer chemicals and reducing water consumption.  The process models nature's ability to condition water by controlling the growth of mircroorganisms such as bacteria, algae, and other waterborne agents. 
  • January 2016: Completed the removal of the HID lamps and fixtures and the installation of energy efficient LED's in the Natatorium, which resulted in improved level of illumination as well as energy savings. Received a $9,500 Pepco rebate on conversion to LED's.
  • Fall 2016: Majority of ERC lights (offices, locker rooms, hallways, fitness center, locker rooms, storage rooms) converted to more energy efficient LED's. Received a $43,540 Pepco rebate for the conversion to LED's.
  • May 2016: Installed 2 Solar Power Umbrellas at the Outdoor Aquatic Center (OAC). These umbrellas harness the sun's energy and may be used to charge small electronics. RecWell was awarded a Student Sustainability grant to add this feature at the OAC. 
  • January 2017: Replaced original lockers in ERC locker rooms. Original lockers were recycled or reused as appropriate.
  • January 2017: Replaced window film in ERC Multipurpose Room and level 1 entrance windows with LLumar DRN25 window film to reduce heat gain/heat loss and reduce glare.
  • Spring 2017: scheduled to replace Ritchie Arena lighting with LED's and a Daintree lighting management system to improve lighting and reduce energy consumption. Grant and rebate requests have been submitted.
  • Spring 2017: planning to replace ERC East and West gym pulse start lights with LED's and Daintree lighting management system to improve lighting and reduce energy consumption. Grant and rebate requests have been submitted.
  • On-going: convert paper processes to more customer service friendly and sustainable electronic processes (e.g., on-line facility reservations and credit card options, work order systems, equipment checkout processes, membership forms and registrations, etc.).
  • Summer 2014: When the artificial turf was replaced, the infill rubber from the existing turf was extracted so it could be reused after the new turf was installed, and the turf itself was hauled away by the contractor to be used for other purposes off-site, saving physical and financial (~$50,000) resources. 
  • Spring 2015: Acquired weight and fitness equipment from UMAB campus, allowing for replacement of RecWell outdated equipment without the need to purchase new equipment (~$60,000 savings)
  • Summer 2015: Acquired $15,000 worth of office furnishings from UMAB campus which allowed for replacement of worn out office chairs for half of RecWell staff and replaced worn out University Golf Course Clubhouse lobby furniture, without the need to purchase new furnishings.
  • On-going: Gold Level Green Office Certified.


What more can we do? Our Sustainability Goals for FY12 are to:

  • Implement Sphagnum Moss Swimming Pool Water Treatment System-Pool Naturally® Plus System.
  • Promotion of warm season grass on the playing surfaces at the Engineering Fields. In addtion to improving playability and performance, this will reduce water consumption and chemical usage (after initial establishment), as well as reduce the frequency and quantity of over-seeding throughout the year.
  • Continue to convert to more energy efficient lighting in indoor facilities.
  • Convert to more energy efficienty lighting at outdoor facilities.
  • Continue to pursue improved/more efficient irrigatin solutions at outdoor facilities.
  • Research viability of harnessing wind power and implementation options for wind power solutions.

Our 2010-2011 sustainability related highlights included:

  • $64,717.67 Student Sustainability Fund Grant awarded for Sphagnum Moss Swimming Pool Water Treatment System - Pool Naturally® Plus System. To be implemented in FY12.
  • Improved lighting efficiencies in the ERC, including motion and/or daylighting sensors in Multipurpose Room, Martial Arts Room, Fitness Room and hallway lighting. Also converted some fixtures to more efficient options, including utilziing LED's where feasible. While not all from this specific effort, ERC's electric consumption on meter impacted by lighting changes has decreased 246,359 kwh over FY10.
  • Improved lighting efficiencies in Ritchie, including motion and/or daylighting sensors installed in hallways and mezzanie. While not all from this specific effort, Ritchie's electric consumption reduced 74,583 kwh over FY10 (5.5% reduction).
  • Eliminated the printing of University Recreation & Wellness (RecWell) Recreation Guides (16,000 copies of print material and brochures annually), and utilize an interactive website and social media outlets as a replacment.
  • Climb & Clean Event at Adventure Complex. Student led effort with 43 volunteers, cleaned up stream and wooded area adjacent to Adventure Complex, netting 13 bags of recycling, 9 bags of trash, 2 car tires, 1 rusted water heater and 1 large pile of metal piping.

Other highlights and on-going benefits and practices from FY10 and prior years:

  • Installed energy misers on the 7 vending and 3 snack machines in the ERC and Ritchie. Projected savings: energy consumption reduced by up to 46% annually on vending and 80% on snack machines.
  • Converted to low flow aerators in all sinks in the ERC, reducing from 2.2-2.5 gallon per minute (gpm) to .5 gpm.
  • Installed 2 Big Ass Fans® in the ERC Aerobics room. Fans provide a cooling effect that allows thermostat setpoints to be elevated; thus decreasing energy consumption and maintaining occupant comfort. Projected savings: 10% reduction in cooling equipment energy consumption.
  • Converted 400 watt fixtures to 320 watt in ERC East gym (FY10). Projected savings: 15,768 kwh annually.
  • Installed occupancy sensors in racquetball and squash courts in ERC, thus reducing the number of hours the lights are on (FY10). Projected savings: 79,716 kwh annually.
  • Converted 2.5 gpm showerheads to 1.5 gpm in the ERC and Ritchie (FY10).
  • Installed Automatic Dual Flush Toilet Valves in the ERC and Ritchie (FY10). Solid waste flush is 1.6 gpm and liquid waste flush reduced to 1.1 gpm. Also installed Automatic Flush Valves on urinals in ERC and Ritchie, which reduced flow from 1 gpm to .5 gpm.
  • Successfully expanded the University Recreation & Wellness (RecWell) Bike Shop operation to a Campus Bike Shop Operation which was relocated to Cole Fieldhouse (FY10). The Shop served a record 4,025 visits (56% increase from FY09).
  • In support of using bikes for transportation, a semester bike rental program was launched through the Campus Bike Shop, with all 24 bikes being rented in the Fall and 15 in the Spring (FY10).
  • Using and testing LED lights, which greatly reduce energy consumption.
  • Utilize over 100 pieces of self-powered cardio equipment.
  • Converted 400 watt fixtures to 320 watt in ERC West gym and Ritchie. 100 fixtures total with savings of 91,500 kwh annually.
  • Installed window film on 74 panes of exterior glass to reduce heat gain and glare and improve occupant comfort. Projected savings: 6.6% reduction in kwh annually
  • The rubber infill used on RecWell's Artificial Turf Fields and LaPlata Beach is derived from recycled tires, which reduces their impact on landfills. The two spaces utilize over 245 ton of rubber infill, or approximately 42,500 recycled tires.
  • The padding under the artificial turf in Cole Fieldhouse is made from recycled tires. The 22,500 sq ft pad equals approximately 500 recycled truck tires.
  • Installed 10 watter bottle fill locations on existing water coolers in the ERC to encourage easier refilling of reusable water bottles.
  • Continued reduction of paper processes and promotion materials, as the department utilizes electronic media such as Facebook, Twitter, Hot Hands, FYI blasts, web banners, graphic e-mails, PDF's and the Department Website to communicate more sustainably. 
  • Donate unclaimed cell phones to Cell Phones for Soldiers.
  • Donate unclaimed clothing and equipment to local charity thrift stores. Typically 1,000+ pounds annually.
  • Green cleaning products are used by housekeeping in the ERC and Ritchie.
  • Did you know that RecWell has consistently supported work life balance via staff telecommuting for over seven years?
  • Utilize recycling mowers that eliminates yard waste and reduces the amount of fertilizer applied to the fields.

Did you know that RecWell takes advantage of the Pepco Commercial and Industrial Energy Savings Program?

The program is designed to promote and encourage energy efficiency projects? From changing out light fixtures to replacing major mechanical equipment, the program provides cash incentives to reduce qualified projects costs. The incentive plans are designed to support the purchase and installation of specific energy efficiency upgrades that play a vital role in efficiency and energy reduction. For how you might be able to save money and energy, go to  

Related Links


Have you visited the Division of Student Affairs Environment Matters website or the Campus Sustainability website?

Did you know that you can Tweet @SustainableUMD?

As of May 2017, water filling stations in University Recreation & Wellness (RecWell) facilities have saved this number of water bottles from being disposed:

University Recreation & Wellness (RecWell) is proud to be a Certified Silver Green Office.

The Green Office Program engages staff, faculty and students in a voluntary, self-guided initiative that promotes best environmental practices at the University of Maryland. The program supports and promotes offices that are taking steps toward reducing their environmental footprint. A series of checklists and tools will guide you through levels of certification. The program operates through a network of Green Office representatives (GO Reps) in offices across campus.