Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 75.14
Liaison Kylee Singh
Submission Date July 10, 2023

STARS v2.2

California Polytechnic State University
OP-21: Water Use

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 1.18 / 4.00 Edgar Palacios
Energy and Sustainability Analyst
Facilities Management and Development
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Level of ”Physical Risk Quantity” for the institution’s main campus as indicated by the World Resources Institute Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas:

Total water withdrawal (potable and non-potable combined):
Performance Year Baseline Year
Total water withdrawal 267,653,826 Gallons 291,224,978.50 Gallons

Potable water use:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Potable water use 174,422,185 Gallons 175,143,658.90 Gallons

Start and end dates of the performance year and baseline year (or three-year periods):
Start Date End Date
Performance Period July 1, 2021 June 30, 2022
Baseline Period July 1, 2013 June 30, 2014

A brief description of when and why the water use baseline was adopted:

In 2015 as part of the states mandatory water conservation efforts, Governor Brown set 2013 as the baseline year in response to the ongoing drought in California.

Figures needed to determine "Weighted Campus Users":
Performance Year Baseline Year
Number of students resident on-site 8,500 7,241
Number of employees resident on-site 18 14
Number of other individuals resident on-site 14 1
Total full-time equivalent student enrollment 21,178 19,006.80
Full-time equivalent of employees 2,944.40 2,205.30
Full-time equivalent of students enrolled exclusively in distance education 0 0
Weighted campus users 20,235.30 17,723.82

Potable water use per weighted campus user:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Potable water use per weighted campus user 8,619.70 Gallons 9,881.82 Gallons

Percentage reduction in potable water use per weighted campus user from baseline:

Gross floor area of building space:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Gross floor area 6,526,706 Gross square feet 5,646,619 Gross square feet

Potable water use per unit of floor area:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Potable water use per unit of floor area 26.72 Gallons per square foot 31.02 Gallons per square foot

Percentage reduction in potable water use per unit of floor area from baseline:

Area of vegetated grounds:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Vegetated grounds 32 Acres 46 Acres

Total water withdrawal per unit of vegetated grounds:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Total water withdrawal per unit of vegetated grounds 8,364,182.06 Gallons per acre 6,330,977.79 Gallons per acre

Percentage reduction in total water withdrawal per unit of vegetated grounds from baseline:

A brief description of the institution's water-related behavior change initiatives:

Since 2008, Cal Poly's Green Campus Team has organized and hosted dorm energy and water competitions to encourage conservation. For example, in 2017, ACDC water and energy use reductions saved University Housing over $2,000 in utilities expenditures and resulted in savings that continued throughout the academic year suggesting that the competition results in long term behavior changes for residents.

In 2023, coming out of a major drought, Cal Poly decided to focus on water exclusively and expand the competition to all first-year housing. For the Love of Water (FLOW) previously named Annual Diversion and Conservation Challenge (ACDC) led to water use reductions that saved University Housing approximately $2,500 in utilities expenditures during the three-week competition. Daily water usage per person dropped from 27 gallons to 25.25 gallons resulting in a total reduction of approximately 180,000 gallons.

FLOW pits residents of the 5 first year student residence complexes against each other to reduce the most domestic water use in their buildings. Water is tracked via manually read or digital interval-data meters and displayed via a Power BI dashboard during the three-week competition. The winner is set by the hall that reduces the most water from their baseline period.


A brief description of the institution's water recovery and reuse initiatives:

In 2016 the Governor's set a 25% reduction goal applied to personal water use only, Cal Poly's Drought Planning Group felt that in order to honor its commitment to resource stewardship and act on behalf of the water that the Governor's goal should apply to ALL Cal Poly water uses and expanded the scope to include landscaping, agriculture, and building water use.

Areas where turf was removed in response to the drought are being redesigned using drought tolerant and native plantings to create beautiful water-wise landscapes. After the popular Cal Poly Rodeo was held in Spanos Stadium for Open House 2016, which put significant strain on the underlying sports turf, Cal Poly chose to experiment with a new water conservation technology to help the field recover. AquaCents—an inert, non-toxic water-holding polymer—was injected at the turf’s root zone, holding water where the grass can make optimal use of it and decreasing the need for irrigation. Case studies show a potential 45 percent water savings with no reduction in turf health or appearance, and the technology is being evaluated for application on other large turf areas.

In 2018, with a generous gift from numerous donors led by the Doerr Family, Cal Poly’s football and soccer practice facility was completely renovated—receiving a new scoreboard, goalposts, soccer goals, filming towers, and a 140-yard synthetic turf field—eliminating the need to irrigate nearly two acres of turf. Seeing this success, in 2021, Cal Poly ultimately installed artificial turf in Spanos Stadium, saving upwards of 8.5 acre-feet per year.

To make the best use of limited regional water resources, Cal Poly is years into planning to build a Water Reclamation Facility (WRF) and in spring 2023 selected a contractor to begin construction. The WRF will treat ~90% of Cal Poly's sewer and generate more than 380 AF/year of recycled water which will meet all of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences water needs on the campus farm. Scheduled to come online in 2026, the of recycled water for these purposes will free up 380 acre-feet of potable water supply to serve some of the new buildings, largely housing, and other facilities envisioned by the new Master Plan.

While water reduction efforts are ongoing across campus, the projects that have been implemented as of December 2015 have already resulted in a reduction to ALL water uses by 31%, surpassing the Governors 25% potable water use reduction mandate. This effort has saved 141,419,521 gallons and has generating over $500,000 in water and sewer utility costs savings compared to the 2013 baseline.

A brief description of the institution's initiatives to replace plumbing fixtures, fittings, appliances, equipment, and systems with water-efficient alternatives:

In 2013, to achieve drought reduction mandates, a Drought Planning Group was convened to identify short and long term conservation measures and operational changes. This group included representatives from Facility Management and Development, Environmental Health and Safety, University Housing, Associated Students Incorporated, the Cal Poly Corporation, and CAFES Ag Operations. This group was responsible for creating Cal Poly's Drought Response Plan.

From the Drought Response Plan, three primary short term conservation measures and one longer term infrastructure measure were prioritized. The short term conservation measures include building plumbing systems, automated landscape irrigation management, and precision-irrigated agricultural operations. The long term infrastructure measure is the development of sources of recycled water. A strategic approach was implemented to meet these goals involving all effected stakeholders in the planning process and within the three main operational areas a variety of suggested retrofits, upgrades, and improvements were implemented.

Each year, Cal Poly aims to budget ~$100k towards low-flow retrofits of existing building stock. In 2023, the Kennedy library, the university's largest building and one of its most occupied will see all new low-flow toilets installed. For the 3rd year in a row, two dormitory towers in Sierra Madre and Yosemite housing complexes will see low-flow plumbing retrofits as well.

Website URL where information about the institution’s water conservation and efficiency efforts is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
Data source(s) and notes about the submission:

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