Fight the Flow

Project Leads: Maia Kapur, Morwenna Rowe, Emily Wong

PowerSave CampusSponsor: PowerSave Campus

TGIF Grant: $3,696

Project Theme: Water Conservation & Tap Water

Project Location

2011 Application Submission

Application Addendum 1

Application Addendum 2

Application Addendum 3

Application Metrics

Status: Complete

Project Description: Fight the Flow installed UZLOW shower valves and educational signs in residence hall Unit 3’s bathrooms to reduce the consumption of water. Give-aways of organic shampoos & soaps, and shower timers also occurred.

UZLOWGoals: Install UZLOW shower valves and after ten weeks measure Unit 3’s water consumption and energy use compared to a baseline set by a campus-wide water audit performed in 2009. If 40% of residents use the valve, potential environmental benefits include 571,050 gal of hot water and 1,875 therms saved, equal to $4,445 in water and heating costs and 26,408 lbs. of CO2 emissions diverted. This project will help UC Berkeley reach its goal of 1990 GHG emission levels by 2014. Current Unit 3 showerheads use 2.0 gallons per minute (gpm). UZLOW valves would reduce flow to .31 gpm, a savings of 1.69gpm. The UZLOW is used an average of 3.5 minutes per shower for a savings of 5.9 gallons per shower.

TGIF Blog Posts about Fight the Flow

About the UZLOW valve: When utilized, the UZLOW valve reduces water and natural gas (used to heat water) consumption by reducing hot water flow when shampooing, shaving, or soaping up. In this low position, the valve allows just enough water to flow, so water stays at the original temperature. There is no burst of cold water when switching back to regular flow, making this a popular option for residents.

UZLOW LLC is a small, locally owned company that has helped immensely in the development and implementation of this project. Philip Bautch (owner of UZLOW) accommodated this grant's large orders and has subsequently received large requests from other campuses pursuing similar retrofits.

2012 Project Poster

2011-2012 Accomplishments

  • Project leader Maia Kapur won a $500 2011 PLAYgreen grant for FTF and was interviewed for a PLAYgreen video.
  • The planned location of shower valve installation was changed from Unit 3 to Unit 1 halls Christian and Slottman. Valves were successfully installed.
  • FTF team created educational posters for the halls and bathrooms. The posters displayed the potential savings of using the UZLOW valve, how they work, and water conservation tips. Incentives such as organic shampoo, soap, and shower timers were distributed at tabling events to increase education and use of the valves.
  • FTF team conducted a pre-survey in the buildings to establish a baseline of current shower habits. Two survey-takers won Amazon gift-cards for their participation.
  • About 180 students responded to the survey. It is assumed the educational posters reached about 120 additional residents. 
  • According to a post-implementation survey, 100% of students in the target residence halls (Christian and Slottman – about 550 residents) had valves installed in their suite showers (112 valves in all). Of those, 82% (about 455 Residents) used the valves at least 20% of the time, even though not every resident saw the educational poster.

The calculations below are made with the assumptions that residents used the valve for 60% of shower time and apply only to a 3 month period of valve use.

% of people that use the valve Number of people Gallons Saved/Shower Gallons Saved/Day Total Gallons Saved over  3 mos.
82% 455 5.9 2684.5 135,298


Therms Avoided Llbs. CO2 Avoided $ Savings from Therms Avoided $ Savings from Gallons Saved
541 7,279 $541 $541.19

2013 Update: Project savings for the two residence halls in Unit 1 alone were as follows: Current Unit 1 showerheads use 2.0 gallons per minute (GPM). UZLOW valves would reduce flow to .31 GPM, a savings of 1.69GPM. The UZLOW is used an average of 3.5 minutes per shower for a savings of 5.9 gallons per shower. An estimated 40% of over 2000 residents use the valves, saving over 571,000 gallons of hot water,and 1,875 therms over the 2 year project lifespan. This is equal to $4,445 saved in water and heating costs and 26,408 lbs. of CO2 emissions diverted.

Final Report

2012-2013 Accomplishments

  • Fight the Flow project team successfully applied for a 2012 TGIF Mini-Grant to purchase an additional 200 UZLOW valves.
    • Fifty of the UZLOWS will be installed at Unviersity Village housing as part of the Green Family Pilot Program. 
    • 150 UZLOWS will be installed in Unit 2 showers. 
  • Fight the Flow won a 2013 Best Pratice Award in the Student Energy Efficiency category. The team received its award at the 2013 California Higher Education Sustainability Conference.
    • "UC Berkeley's Fight the Flow is an excellent example of how saving water can also result in significant energy savings. UCB PowerSave interns installed 124 UZLOW shower valves in two of their residence halls and conducted ongoing campaign to residents to educate them on how to use the valve and its potential savings. When in use, the UZLOW valve reduces both water consumption and the natural gas used to heat water by decreasing hot water flow when shampooing, shaving, or soaping up. From 1990 to 2009 the UC Berkeley residence halls displayed a 10% increase in water usage; however, the 570,000 gallons of annual water saved by Fight the Flow returned the building's usage to 1991 levels in less than one year. These water savings translate to 950 therms in annual energy savings. The Fight the Flow campaign was so successful that it is being expanded to another residence hall and a university family housing complex."
    • Award Application


Fight the Flow Best Practice Award Presentation, CHESC 2013


PowerSave Campus Fight the Flow Best Practices Award
PowerSave Campus receiving the 2013 Best Practice Award in
the Student Energy Efficiency Category.
photo credit Baron Spafford

Mission Statement

The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF) provides funding for projects that reduce UC Berkeley's negative impact on the environment and make UC Berkeley more sustainable. TGIF will allocate funds to projects that promote sustainable modes of transportation, increase energy and water efficiency, restore habitat, promote environmental and food justice, and reduce the amount of waste created by UC Berkeley. Portions of the fund also support education and behavior change initiatives, student aid (via return to aid), and internships. TGIF is supported by student fees and administered through a student-majority committee and a program coordinator.