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Drinking Water Systems: accessible and sustainable

Universities are under increasing pressure to evidence that their facilities are both accessible and sustainable

Posted by Ed Brown | September 29, 2017 | Sustainability

Universities are under increasing pressure to evidence that their facilities are both accessible and sustainable. Therefore, consideration should be given regarding drinking water provision and whether the systems in place are environmentally friendly as well as compliant with the Equality Act.

Dehydration amongst students is a serious health concern and universities up and down the country are looking at ways to ensure their students and staff hydrate on a regular basis. One option is to install drinking water dispensers around the campus for students to self-serve in between lectures. They should be encouraged to refill water bottles rather than buying new ones, therefore helping to save the oceans from the build-up of plastic waste.

By investing in a system which purifies water on-site, universities can eliminate the need to order, deliver and store pre-bottled water. This will have a significant impact on the university’s carbon footprint and can count as evidence towards environmental accreditation applications such as BREEAM.

BRITA Vivreau’s ViTap dispenses unlimited purified chilled still or sparkling water from a single tap with touch sensor control and zero splash. The tap also comes with a boiling hot water option, ideal for use in the staff room for instant tea and coffee, reducing the queue for the kettle. There is even an intelligent safety feature on the ViTap which prevents boiling water from being dispensed by accident.

Under the Equality Act, there is a requirement for public sector bodies, including universities, to promote equality for disabled people in every aspect of their work. Measures may already have been put in place to assist disabled building users such as wheelchair ramps, braille signs, hearing loops, light alerts etc. However, simple things like being able to get access to water will make the difference between a disabled building user feeling included and provided for, or not.

One way that universities can evidence compliance is by installing the Equality Access Pad (EAP) which has been created to complement the ViTap. The EAP has been designed for ease of use to gain access to the drinking water dispenser primarily from, but not limited to, a wheelchair location.

The module is installed remotely from the ViTap system and mounted at the most convenient position for use, to enable the user to safely access drinking water without having to reach over the appliance or boiling water dispense point. It can be mounted on a wall or the front of or underneath the worktop – the position of the module can be decided following a thorough feasibility study undertaken before installation.

Once installed, students or staff will be able to place their bottle, glass, cup or mug on the drip tray before selecting their dispense option from the EAP. The still, sparkling or boiling water will then pour until the button is released.

In addition to accessibility considerations, the ViTap is also hygienic, promoting a healthier workplace. Hygiene has been at the heart of each stage of the design process, from the dirt-free touch pad, purposefully shallow drip tray (because your drinking water dispenser is not a sink) and the ability to fill water bottles without nozzle contact (no more bottle germs), to the removable dispense nozzle for cleaning.

Providing facilities which enables all users to access water independently to hydrate can make a big difference to the day to day life for those living with disabilities.

By actively encouraging students to refill bottles throughout the day, and by providing deliciously chilled, purified water with the option of still or sparkling, universities will help beat dehydration which will result in a healthier and more engaged student body.

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