With new sinks and showers, SBU goes low-flow

Dry humor: Borrowing a page from "Seinfeld," Stony Brook University and National Grid have turned down SBU's water usage.

In an earth-friendly effort of Seinfeldian proportions, Stony Brook University has gone low-flow.

The university, in partnership with National Grid, has installed new aerators, shower heads and spray valves in several campus buildings, all designed to curtail water usage by 50 percent or more. But unlike the classic “Seinfeld” episode in which low-flow showers create a host of hairy conundrums for Jerry and the gang, the SBU upgrades are being hailed as something of a Festivus miracle.

At least, an environmental coup, with the 947 new shower heads, seven state-of-the-art spray valves and 2,280 next-generation aerators predicted to make a significant dent in the sprawling university’s water usage, which is considerable.

The aerator up there: Tiny devices, big savings.

“The [Stony Brook University Office of Sustainability], working with National Grid, spearheaded a project to reduce the university’s water consumption by installing devices that decrease water output at the faucet by over 50 percent,” said Tom Lanzilotta, SBU’s campus sustainability and energy manager. “Reducing the amount of water used to wash hands and take showers also conserves energy by using less hot water.”

To point: The new aerators – they screw into faucets, prevent splashing and shape outcoming water into convenient streams – boast a flow rate of 1 gallon per minute, whereas standard aerators have a flow rate of 2.2 gpm, according to SBU.

The new shower heads and spray valves, meanwhile, offer a similar H2Overhaul: Both promise flow rates of 1.5 gpm, replacing less-efficient heads and valves with rates of 2.5 gpm.

The university figures to soak up the savings through the water-efficiency upgrades, to the tune of 2.1 million fewer gallons of water used annually, and 43,000 fewer therms – a unit roughly equal to the amount of energy required to burn 100 cubic feet of natural gas.

That makes the upgrades, which were installed by National Grid over the summer, “a win-win for both the university and the environment,” Lanzilotta said.

“Environmental stewardship has long been a focus at Stony Brook University,” the sustainability manager added. “Projects of this nature and scope will go a long way in meeting our efficiency goals.”

They also help National Grid’s in-house conservation causes. The utility – which transitioned operation and maintenance of the Long Island Power Authority’s electric transmission and distribution system to PSEG-LI in 2013, but still provides natural-gas distribution and services to Island consumers – has created many “award-winning energy-efficiency programs that have helped thousands of our commercial, multifamily and residential customers reduce their energy usage,” according to Customer and Community Management Director Mike Ruiz.

“National Grid is proud to partner with Stony Brook University to help them achieve their environmental sustainability and emissions-reduction goals,” Ruiz said in a statement. “Our energy-efficiency programs have helped reduce thousands of tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, as well as helping to reduce our reliance on imported fossil fuels.”

Neither National Grid nor the university offered any comment on rumors that a man known only as “Newman” was spotted on campus selling black-market Commando 450 shower heads out of the back of a van.

Going Commando: Not at SBU.

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