Reduce Water Use

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According to the EPA, each year more than 1 trillion gallons of water pass through our sink faucets in the United States. How and where is water being used around your school?

Investigate bathroom faucets and toilets, locker room showers, the kitchen, science labs, art rooms – and don’t forget outside. Leaky faucets and spouts waste gallons and gallons of water every day, and a few small changes can make a big difference. Installing aerators and other simple strategies can reduce a sink's water flow by 30 percent or more!

Measure your impact

Measure the gallons of water saved this year or just on your day of action. Either work with your facilities staff to choose a baseline water use and see how much lower you can go, or estimate your impact by adding up the amount that was likely saved through each of your actions. You can track your school's water data throughout the school year using Arc, the online, building performance platform, to identify areas of inefficiencies.

Get started

  • Contact the principal or a school facilities administrator to get their support for conducting a water audit in one of the school buildings. 
  • Conduct a walk-through of your school and its grounds in search of all your water connections.
  • Find out in advance the last time any of the fixtures may have been updated and whether or not any efficiency measures have been taken to use less water. Request a tour to walk through the building with a custodial staff member.
  • Use a water audit worksheet like the one from Eco Schools to calculate your school’s current water usage.
  • Install faucet aerators and advocate for leaks to be fixed. Aerators are small and inexpensive devices that can be screwed directly onto a faucet where the water comes out to slow the flow of water, cutting the gallons per minute nearly in half.
  • Connect student learning with sustainability action using the Learning Lab online education platform. For this topic, you can access the “Living with Less Water” lesson, a teacher-friendly, high school lesson available in English and Spanish, in which students explore environmental changes in their neighborhoods and towns and discuss the reverberating impacts of drought on human and natural resources. On Learning Lab, you can find other high-quality classroom content — over 450 lessons in English and Spanish — for teachers from kindergarten to high school. To locate more lessons about food and nutrition, search by theme, grade level or primary subject.
  • Educate school staff on what what supports or impedes healthy, resource-efficient and environmentally sustainable learning spaces. The Green Classroom Professional Course breaks down the different aspects of building sustainability, including water efficiencies, and identifies the effects they have on school occupants and the environment.

Additional resources

Example projects

Materials for this project

If applying for a mini-grant through the site, these materials among others are included in the site's available vendors: