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Stanford Students Freak Over Eco-friendly Showers

Stanford Showers

Stanford is progressive in its commitment to the environment, so it's not surprising that they swapped out 1,827 showerheads in the dorms over Christmas for low-flow, eco-friendly ones.  The retrofit reduces water flow from 2.5 gallons per minute to 1.3 gallons per minute per showerhead, saving Stanford an estimated total of 12 million gallons of water per year.  And California isn't exactly gushing with surplus water supplies, so it makes sense, right?  Well, not so fast.  Students came back from Christmas break and flipped.  They absolutely flipped.  Letter and email writing campaigns.  Editorial columns.  Meetings with University officials.  Etc.

The students seemed irritated at not being consulted on the issue, which, if you stop and think about it, sounds ludicrous ... I can't believe you changed my showerhead without asking.  There's no transparency between the students and administration.  The administration hates the students ... Anyway, I decided to search for a Facebook group on the issue, but you'll be just as surprised as me to find that there isn't one yet.

In the end, there was a compromise:  Stanford caved and agreed to install at least one hand-held showerhead that increases water flow in each bathroom.  You'll have to excuse the pun, but it's funny how college students can treat the smallest things as such watershed events.  For more information, see The Stanford Daily (ridiculous comments), SF CBS 5


This doesn't surprise me at all vis a vis the US' consumption stats. We who hang out in the green blogosphere sometimes forget how much education could still be done.

@Sarah - not really. I don't expect much because I know we're in a consumerist society and change is small. But Stanford is different.

This retrofit came about from a student suggestion. Plus, Stanford is supposed to be one of the greener schools in the country, what with the y2e2 building and their environmental portal.

from elaineishere's twitter:

Stanford should have installed low-flow high-pressure showerheads from bricor, oxygenics, etc. they wouldn't feel the difference.

Oh to have absolutely nothing to worry about again except for how forceful my shower is. College, the good ole' days. :-)

@David - I know, huh. That first year in the dorms was unbeatable. But still, some kids at Stanford thought the difference was negligible, so I have the feeling this situation could have been avoided by doing it in the Summer.

Based on my own tests, I agree all low-flow showerhead models aren't created equal, so they could've installed a good one, and avoided the trouble. (And the article should've mentioned which one they installed so as not to unfairly smear all green products as rebellion-worthy.) Unfortunately, there are a lot of bad green products out there that seem to say "hey, if it's green it doesn't have to be good" --and we need to start being truthful about those differences. No sense in educating students that green means suffering. That's so last century.

I stumbled across this article and would like to point out that the student complaints were not invalid. Because of the archaic piping system in my student residence, when they installed the low-flow shower heads, there was no longer hot water in my shower. Instead, we had luke-warm water. I know that Palo Alto is a relatively temperate climate but having a hot shower is one of the simple pleasures in life that students don't like giving up- especially when they are paying a fortune in rent.

@Stanford Student - fair enough. It's been a while since this article was first written and we were kind of hard on Stanford students in the beginning. We recognize that there's a difference among the various low-flow fixtures on the market, so hopefully it all worked out in the end ...

i dont know about others but i find myself having to shower twice as long with a low flow shower head. that crappy reduced flow just doesnt wash the soap off or the shampoo out of your hair. maybe its hard water not helping but seriously. its crap.

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