|To save water, low flow aerators have been installed on all sinks|
Sustainability Report #5
For the month of May Ijams staff was asked to raise their own consciousness of how much water they consume. Currently, Ijams board and staff are taking on a new sustainability initiative and one of the sub committees is looking specifically at water usage. Other subcommittees include energy, transportation/operations, waste, procurement and education.
For the past several years, May had been a heavy water usage month. So, the question arose; what can we do as a staff to curtail this? Well, in order to know what we can do it is first important to know what efforts are already taking place. Ameresco, a company charged with reducing Knoxville City Buildings with utility saving devices and water conservation measures, has already come through and installed low flow faucet aerators and a low flow shower head. The toilets at Ijams Nature Center were originally installed as low flow. We plant native at Ijams, which reduces the need for irrigation except in the driest parts of the year and when we do irrigate at the visitor center, we pump from our pond which is continually fed from our water source heat pumps.
So, with the low fruit already picked what more can we do? The answer seems to be diligence. Everyone on staff was asked to shut faucets off completely and report any leaks immediately. Our plant rescue site needs to be watered occasionally and we attempt to do this in the early parts of the day. We are operating with very old and damaged hoses and all of these have been repaired.
In addition to all of these efforts, we are currently seeking funding for a rainwater harvesting system for both the Miller Education Building and the roof under our solar array. These systems would be used for irrigation rather than using city water.
When I first started looking at ways to cut our water usage at Ijams, I was frustrated by how hard it was. Being eternally pessimistic has its advantages; I’m rarely let down and I’m prepared for the worst, but it was time for me to look on the bright side...we are already walking the walk here at Ijams.