Students Upset Over New Showerheads

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?  Seems like a smart move.

Well, not so fast.  Students came back from Christmas break and didn’t like the retrofit.  So they started 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, is ludicrous since they’re only renters.

In the end, there was a compromise:  Stanford agreed to install at least one hand-held showerhead that increases water flow in each bathroom.  So, 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.

  • Sarah

    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.

  • Preston

    @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.

  • elaine

    from elaineishere‘s twitter:

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

  • David@The Good Human

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

  • Preston

    @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.

  • Jeff R

    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.

  • Stanford Student

    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.

  • Preston

    @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 …

  • john doe

    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.

  • Eco Home Store

    I can relate to the students because I like a nice strong flow coming from the showerhead. My husband had been threatening me for years about changing our showerheads. I wouldn’t even consider it until I tested some Moen faucets. My online store is selling faucets with 1.75 gpm. I think 1.3 gpm is rather drastic. The pressure of our 1.75 is enough that it doesn’t feel really any different from the old showerheads.

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