Water Sustainability

Square 80 Plaza water reclamation park
Square 80 Plaza water reclamation park
GW is commited to reducing its water footprint

GW is committed to reducing our potable water footprint and our negative impact on our watershed. On Earth Day 2011, GW revealed its water footprint and announced its targets around water sustainability. The GWater Plan is one of the most comprehensive plans for water sustainability issued by an American university, with eight clear goals and targets spanning across four major focus areas – potable water, rainfall capture, wastewater and bottled water.


GWater Menu - Learn about the differences between tap and bottled water.


Water Sustainability

Potable Water

 Reduce total potable water consumption by 25% over 10 years from FY08 baseline

  • Adapt water saving infrastructure in campus facilities

  • Reuse all retained stormwater for greywater systems, cooling towers and irrigation

  • Encourage water conservation through programs such as Eco-Challenge and the Green Office Network

Rainfall Capture

Capture rainwater that falls on our campus -- zero run-off

  • Increase permeable space by 10% over 10 years from FY11 baseline

  • Pilot new technologies to harvest rainwater

  • Create rainfall capture and sequestration sites around campus


Reduce the amount of contaminants going into our campus waste water system -- zero pollution

  • Educate GW community on impacts of litter on our watershed

  • Promote responsible disposal of pharmaceuticals and other pollutants

  • Partner with local organizations who protect the surrounding watershed

Bottled Water

Reduce the use of bottled water on campus

  • Reduce direct expenditure on bottled water in university procurement by half over five years from FY11 baseline

  • Ensure all new constructions incorporate in-line filtration systems

  • Engage GW community to 'Take back the tap' and promote the use of reusable water bottles

Existing GW Water Projects

Square 80 Plaza

This unique water reclamation park captures and retains all water that falls on the site. Through a network of cisterns, tunnels, permeable surface and rain barrels, this 3/4 acre site highlights the technological possibilities for managing storm water. The Square 80 plaza is a participant in the SITES pilot program which is developing a certifications for outdoor spaces.


1959 E Street Green Roof

This pilot green roof on the Elliot School was proposed by students and opened in fall 2008. The roof features hearty sedum plants, which help prevent storm water runoff. 


GroW Community Garden

The GroW Community student group created the GroW Garden on the Foggy Bottom campus. GroW Garden features native vegetables and plants which require less watering, and the addition of vegetation to the campus also helps prevent storm water runoff.


Water Bottle Refill Stations

Water bottle refill stations are located in the following buildings:

Foggy Bottom Campus:
Academic and Administrative Buildings:
  • Burns Law Library
  • Elliott School of International Affairs
  • Gelman Library
  • Lerner Health and Wellness Center
  • Lerner Hall (Law School)
  • Lisner Hall
  • Marvin Center
  • Milken Institute School of Public Health
  • Ross Hall (Medical School)
  • Science and Engineering Hall
  • Stockton Hall (Law School)
  • Stuart Hall (Law School)
  • Textile Museum

Residence Halls:

  • District House
  • Mitchell Hall
  • Munson Hall
  • Thurston Hall

Mount Vernon Campus:

  • Ames Hall
  • Eckles Library
  • West Hall

Virginia Science and Technology Campus:

  • Discovery Hall
  • Innovation Hall

The Green Office Network

Through our outreach to faculty and staff on campus we seek to educate the GW community about their water usage and ways to reduce it. 



This annual conservation challenge between residence halls encourages students to reduce their electricity and water usage.


Water Taste Test and Pledge

To raise awareness about drinking water choices, the Office of Sustainability occasionally holds water taste tests on campus. Students "blind taste" samples of bottled, filtered, and tap water to see if they can tell the difference. These students are then encouraged to choose tap water or filtered tap water over bottled water whenever possible, carry a reusable bottle for this purpose, and talk to their family and friends about reducing their bottled water use. 


GW students at the tap water taste fest at Earth Day 2012

Bottled Water Reduction

Offices interested in switching to in-line filtration systems can contact [email protected]