WaterHub: Reducing Emory's water footprint

April 13, 2015

There’s very little on this earth more precious than water. The United Nations projects that by 2030 our global water deman will outstript its supply by 40%. That's why Emory University is lessening its water footprint with a new facility called the WaterHub.

"The WaterHub is a water reclamation facility, which basically means we’re recycling the water, our wastewater, that we’ve used here on campus and reusing it to heat and cool our buildings and the leftovers will be used in toilet flushing," says Ciannat Howett, Emory's director of sustainability initiatives.

The WaterHub is designed to process roughly 400,000 gallons of water per day. 

"To translate that to the Emory campus, that’s greater than 35% of all water used on this campus will go through the WaterHub," says Jonathan Lanciani, president of Sustainable Water, the provider of the water reclamation technology.

The facility, the first of its kind in the nation, is a combination of natural processes and technology to recycle the sewer water. With solar panels to power the facility, it uses plants and colonies of microorganisms to clean the water.

"I think it’s amazing," says Matthew Early, vice president of campus services. "You got this happening naturally in wetlands, and now we built a facility to kind of create our own wetlands."

On top of the savings, the WaterHub is also designed as a hub for student research.

"It’s pretty spectacular to get this kind of hands-on experience in a working water reclamation facility," says Emory graduate student Erin Finestone. "It's perfect training for me to see about implementing these kinds of systems around the world to help with viruses and water-born diseases."