The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is spending $15,000 on a proposal to develop a "novel" low cost wireless device that will be used to monitor water use from hotel guest room showers.
The one-year grant to the University of Tulsa
will be used to develop a system that can fit most new and existing hotel shower fixtures and "will wirelessly transmit hotel guest water usage data to a central hotel accounting system."
The project, which was provided through the agency's People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) program, is intended to address the EPA's concern about how much water is used during the length of an average shower. The P3 program
awards grants of up to $15,000 to universities and colleges through a student design competition.
"Each year, the projects and designs created by the P3 teams surpass expectations. These students are creating sustainable solutions for our everyday needs, addressing some of the United States' most challenging environmental issues and helping create a vibrant, growing economy," said Lek Kadeli, acting assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Research and Development
, in announcing the grant in October.
Showering accounts for nearly 17 percent of residential indoor water use, or about 30 gallons per household per day, and 1.2 trillion gallons of water annually, according to the EPA
One of the project leads, Tyler W. Johannes, Ph.D., an associate professor at the University of Tulsa's School of Chemical Engineering, hopes to see the device "adopted by all major hotels and used across the country" and believes getting hotel guests to limit their showers to seven minutes is just the beginning, according to The Washington Free Beacon
, which first reported the EPA grant.
EPA deputy press secretary Laura Allen issued a statement to the Free Beacon clarifying that "EPA is not monitoring how much time hotel guests spend in the shower" and said that the marketplace "will decide if there is a demand for this type of technology. It's ultimately up to hotels to use technology like the monitors being developed at the University of Tulsa."
According to the EPA grant, the technology will allow hotel guests to monitor their daily water online or by using a smartphone app, and the device will be marketed to the hotel industry as a way to "reduce costs by promoting water conservation among hotel guests."
Conserving water is also the goal behind two grants — amounting to nearly $30,000 — awarded in October to student teams at Stanford University and University of California Davis to design a waterless toilet
Those grants, also distributed under the P3 program, would be used to design a "portable, waterless, household toilet with reusable cartridges for safe removal and recycling of human waste."
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