Water Metering and Sub-Metering of UC Campus Buildings

Project Leads: Lindsay Miller & Elliot Nahman

Sponsor: Berkeley Institute of the Environment

TGIF Grant: $56,000

Project Theme: Water Conservation & Tap Water

Project Location

2009 Application Submission

Status: Complete

Project Description: This project aimed to monitor water use in campus buildings, target and report the most wasteful facilities, and bring quantifiable savings to UC Berkeley while promoting campus sustainability and water conservation. These plans were accomplished through the installation and reading of water sub-meters in campus buildings. (See also Miller & Nahman's 2010 TGIF Grant Project Water Metering and Conservation)

Goals: Purchase meters for installation. Connect water meters in several campus buildings to the online Obvius server to get real time data. Perform short-term metering of specific bathrooms and other areas of water use. Install water sub-meters in several campus buildings to get water-use information at a finer resolution. Install a pilot project of dual-flush toilets and pint-flush urinals to conserve water. Establish a campus process of using metering to identify "worst-offended" toilets and to detect leaks and needed maintenance. Save PP-CS labor hours by being able to read meters electronically, rather than collect data manually from meters one-by-one. Reduce water and electricity use and assist UC Berkeley in achieving its Cal-CAP goals. (See application for detailed metrics)

Percentage of fixtures leaking2009-2010 Accomplishments
The Water Metering and Sub-metering team has completely handed off the building-scale water meter connections to Obvius and PPCS. The team members' new task is to continue check-ups on the progress of the installations as they begin audits and submitting orders for the next phase (TGIF grant 2010) of their project.
Regarding sub-metering and toilets in Wurster Hall, they have had the help of 4 civil engineering undergraduates with using the ultrasonic water meter to audit the water consumption of toilets in Wurster Hall. They need to collect some more data before deciding which fixtures to replace with the high efficiency toilets and urinals. By June, the team was nearing the end of discussions with PPCS to determine which sub-meters to order for fine-scale metering of Wurster Hall, and was working with an undergraduate electrical engineering student to set up the wireless sensor network for collecting and viewing data.

2010-2011 Accomplishments and Final Results
The Water Metering projects installed and upgraded meters in 21 buildings with the help of PP-CS, connecting these meters to the campus Obvius server so that real-time metering updates can be viewed online. The project leaders

  • Upgraded meters in 15 buildings: Evans, Dwinelle, Hearst Mining, Hilgard, Koshland, Kroeber, Latimer, LeConte, Life Sciences Addition, Martin Luther King, McCone, Minor Addition, Stanley, University, and Wurster Hall.
  • Purchased meters for installation and connection with Obvius in Barrows, Birge, Boalt, California, Cory, Lawrence Hall of Science, Simon, and Tan Hall.
  • Installed nine sub-building meters in Wurster Hall.
  • Collaborated with PP-CS on connecting electric and steam meters to Obvius in Barrows, Birge, Boalt, California, Cory, and Simon Halls.
  • Conducted a water audit on every toilet and urinal in Wurster Hall using ultrasonic water meters to determine gallons of water per flush, finding that that 71% of fixtures use more than their rated 1.6 gallons per flush, around 2-4 g/flush, with several at 5 gallons per flush. The sub-meter data will be used for leak detection and occupancy use.


2011 Poster

Final Report

The Water Metering and Sub-metering project and the Water Metering and Conservation project were not without their challenges. The project leaders had intended to replace ten fixtures in the Wurster bathrooms with ten water efficient and dual flush fixtures, but the equipment slated for installation did not match PP-CS's required fixtures. Because the fixture installations were not completed, a post-water efficiency audit was not feasible for the Wurster fixtures.
Other challenges faced by the project leaders included managing a delayed project timeline and managing unforeseen expenses. Despite these challenges, it is a major accomplishment to have installed meters in 21 buildings and to have their data readily available online for the campus. The meters can count towards points in the LEED Certification process. The data could be used by the Energy Management OE initiative, for education and outreach, and for potential conservation competitions between building occupants. For now, the data will be displayed by the UC Berkeley Campus Dashboard project and will help PP-CS detect leaks in a timely manner, saving on labor and water costs. In the future, the data may be displayed by the Pulse Energy Dashboards.

Final Update: The project leaders met with PPCS in May 2012 and the latest figure was that 67 water meters had been installed/upgraded as a result of the collaborative project efforts. All of these meters will be connected with the Obvius system if they are not already connected.

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.