Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 66.51
Liaison Aurora Sharrard
Submission Date Feb. 28, 2021

STARS v2.2

University of Pittsburgh
OP-21: Water Use

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.23 / 4.00 Michael Sinack
Senior Manager, Mechanical Engineering
Facilities Management
"---" 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:
Low to Medium

Total water withdrawal (potable and non-potable combined):
Performance Year Baseline Year
Total water withdrawal 307,431,000 Gallons 303,692,000 Gallons

Potable water use:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Potable water use 307,431,000 Gallons 303,692,000 Gallons

Start and end dates of the performance year and baseline year (or three-year periods):
Start Date End Date
Performance Period July 1, 2017 June 30, 2020
Baseline Period July 1, 2010 June 30, 2011

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

Fiscal Year 2011 was selected the baseline year because it is the year of the University's second greenhouse gas inventory (including more inclusive building energy and water consumption information than the 2008 GHG inventory baseline year). FY11 is also the baseline year for OP-5 (Building Energy Efficiency)

Figures needed to determine "Weighted Campus Users":
Performance Year Baseline Year
Number of students resident on-site 7,891 7,200
Number of employees resident on-site 18 0
Number of other individuals resident on-site 0 0
Total full-time equivalent student enrollment 26,730.20 26,323
Full-time equivalent of employees 13,047.40 11,825
Full-time equivalent of students enrolled exclusively in distance education 168 0
Weighted campus users 31,684.45 30,411

Potable water use per weighted campus user:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Potable water use per weighted campus user 9,702.90 Gallons 9,986.25 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 11,564,322 Gross Square Feet 9,447,142 Gross Square Feet

Potable water use per unit of floor area:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Potable water use per unit of floor area 26.58 Gallons / GSF 32.15 Gallons / GSF

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

Area of vegetated grounds:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Vegetated grounds 23.10 Acres 11 Acres

Total water withdrawal per unit of vegetated grounds:
Performance Year Baseline Year
Total water withdrawal per unit of vegetated grounds 13,308,701.30 Gallons / Acre 27,608,363.64 Gallons / 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:


In the 2018 Pitt Sustainability Plan, the University of Pittsburgh set a variety of Water Systems goals that help us strive for responsible consumption of potable and non-potable water sources while using best practice for stormwater management and reuse on campus. These goals include:

• Work with the City to ensure clean, healthy drinking water for all in our community.
• Strive toward a water neutral campus, with a 3% reduction in water use by 2020 from 2017 baseline.
• Embrace international 2030 Challenge goals of 50% reduction in water use intensity (consumption per square foot) by 2030 (below the district average) and establish design standards and operational practices to achieve them.
• Reduce impervious surfaces 20% by 2030 (from 2017 baseline).
• Divert 25% of stormwater from remaining impervious surfaces to rain gardens, bioswales, rainwater harvesting tanks, and/or natural or built rainwater management systems by 2030.
Learn more: https://www.sustainable.pitt.edu/impacts/water-systems/

As a result of these goals, many students, faculty, and staff have been perpetuating projects on- and off-campus related to water systems. Four examples are below:


In Fall 2020, 3 Pitt students developed a pilot “Greener Minds Modules” program to help students learn about sustainability and how to get involved on campus. Created as a project for Ward Allebach's "Sustainability" course, the draft modules cover recycling, energy and water conservation, and transportation. The pilot water conservation module is online here: https://pro.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?tid=683759a1-5025-4870-b456-ac9201497ffc


In fiscal year 2020, Pitt’s Study Abroad developed new collaborations to expand the portfolio of programs in the United States (Study Away), including “Global Water Policy,” which explores U.S., Central Asian, and global perspectives on water management and environmental sustainability.
Learn more: https://www.abroad.pitt.edu/away/globalwaterpolicydc
Learn more about the larger Pitt Global Water Concerns Experiential Learning Project: https://www.planforpitt.pitt.edu/projects/global-water-concerns-experiential-learning-project


Established in 2018, the Pittsburgh Collaboratory for Water at the University of Pittsburgh (Water Collaboratory) bridges efforts in water research, governance, and action. By connecting universities, local governments, nonprofits, and community groups, the Water Collaboratory aims to align efforts across the region. The Water Collaboratory works to ensure that data and expertise are accessible to those who need it, that research responds to real needs, and that students are prepared to solve real challenges, today and tomorrow.

Since 2018, the Water Collaboratory has conducted extensive outreach efforts to gauge research needs in the Pittsburgh region with respect to key water challenges: water quality, green infrastructure, and flooding. These outreach efforts resulted in a series of 3 community consensus reports documenting input from over 200 participants and set the stage for the University of Pittsburgh to become a major force in advancing environmental and economic sustainability in the region.
Learn more about the Water Collaboratory: https://www.water.pitt.edu/

The Water Collaboratory is also a clearinghouse for all things water at Pitt, including 26 water-related courses. https://www.water.pitt.edu/water-courses-pitt

The Water Collaboratory also hosts a bi-weekly water discussion series: https://www.water.pitt.edu/calendar/month

In Summer 2019 and 2020, the Water Collaboratory funded undergraduate research focused on water, resulting in research outcomes that have been shared with the entire Pitt and Pittsburgh community. Research shared includes:
• Water and Sewer Affordability: An Insight into Water Equity in Allegheny County
• Streets Run Watershed and the Effects of Urbanization, Abandoned Mine Drainage, and Nitrogen Eutrophication on Water Quality


Given local challenges with lead service lines, the University initially tested water in all Pittsburgh campus buildings for lead in 2017. All campus buildings are tested on regular cycles for lead, with most sampled locations being below 5 ppb; none exceed the U.S. standard of 15 ppb.

Pitt also proactively installed systems that effectively control legionella bacteria in more than 20 residence halls. These systems continuously monitor water quality. Pitt performs additional testing for legionella on an annual basis.

Learn more: https://www.fm.pitt.edu/news/water-quality-testing-campus

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

The University of Pittsburgh’s new stormwater masterplan is complete and under internal review. This plan identifies major rainwater capture, storage, and reuse initiatives. The largest project is already in design, anticipated to capture and reuse treated rainwater as for make-up water at our central utility plants. Given the City of Pittsburgh’s combined sewer overflow (CSO) system (which is under consent decree with the U.S. EPA), the new Pitt system will lessen the regional burden on both the CSO system and local domestic water infrastructure.

Since 2001, the University of Pittsburgh has also used underground aquifer water (tapped into during the construction of Sennott Square) to water planted areas and hanging baskets around campus that require irrigation. in 2001, and designers took advantage of this by installing an access point to collect the water for use on campus. This Pittsburgh aquifer runs from Herron Hill to Schenley Park; the use of this untreated water to help sustain ecological systems reduces the amount of municipal water consumed and has a lower impact on the environment.

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

Though they were publicized in the 2018 Pitt Sustainability Plan, the University of Pittsburgh has been committed to international 2030 Challenge goals related to water since 2014. Specifically, the goal is to achieve 50% reduction in water use intensity (WUI, water consumption in gallons per square foot) by 2030 (below regional baselines) -- and establish design standards and operational practices to achieve them.

In Fiscal Year 2020, Pitt’s continued emphasis on reducing water consumption resulted in a sustained downward trend, with the University celebrating a 13.9% decrease in water consumption since FY15. To achieve this outcome, Pitt Facilities Management analyzed actual versus expected water usage, identifying and correcting nine water leaks to avoid over $173,000 per month in wasted water and another $14,000 per month in steam leak repairs.

Pitt’s water use tracking across campus and by building includes both existing buildings, new buildings, and major renovations. All water projects are covered by Facilities' Design Manual, Division J (Mechanical, which covers plumbing efficiency): https://www.fm.pitt.edu/sites/default/files/pictures/Design_Manual/Division%20J.pdf.


All plumbing fixtures installed on Pitt new construction and renovation projects are required to be high efficiency, low flow fixtures in line with Pitt FM Design Manual Division J.

Additionally, all Pitt new construction and major renovation projects have WUI targets set at the very beginning that align with the University’s 2030 Challenge targets.


In 2018 and 2019, the University undertook 2 whole building bathroom updates (including moving to much more efficient fixtures) in two dorms (Litchfield Towers C and A, respectively; Tower B is in the queue next). The Litchfield Towers bathroom renovation is generating over $170,000 in water savings annually for the University, while responsibly stewarding Pittsburgh’s water resources.

In addition to its normal annual energy and water conservation and efficiency projects, the University has contracted with The Efficiency Network (TEN) to advance more energy and water upgrades since 2018. TEN has audited over 15 campus buildings to-date -- and began advancing water efficiency upgrades in 11 buildings alone in early 2021. This effort is part of a multi-year Pitt Facilities Management project to replace all old flush valves and faucets. Once complete, all toilet flush valves will provide 1.28 gallons per flush (gpf) or less, urinals will all be 1-pint per flush, and all public restroom faucets will be 0.5 gallons per minute (gpm) or less.

Website URL where information about the institution’s water conservation and efficiency efforts is available:

Additional documentation to support the submission:

In Facilities' Design Manual, Division J (Mechanical) covers plumbing efficiency: https://www.fm.pitt.edu/sites/default/files/pictures/Design_Manual/Division%20J.pdf

For the baseline year (FY11):
* The number of distance education students is unknown.
* Gross floor area reflects only the buildings for which water consumption data was available. Certain buildings are tenant-occupied and thus data was not available.
*The area of vegetated grounds is a rough estimate.
*Specific information on this entry was not readily available.

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution or simply email your inquiry to stars@aashe.org.