Bottle-Filling Water Cooler from Elkay
As I always do when I fly, I bring my own stainless-steel water bottle, finishing the contents before going through security, then filling it so that I don't need a plastic water bottle from the flight attendant. When I flew out of O'Hare in Chicago to return home from a meeting the other day, for the first time I filled my bottle from a new Elkay EZH2O bottle filling station.
It's much more convenient. Unlike filling from a standard drinking fountain, it only took one hand, so I didn't have to contort my body to keep my computer bag from slipping off my shoulder as I stooped over and waited for my bottle to fill. It's a lot faster, with a 1.1 gallon-per minute (gpm) fill rate--close to three times that of a standard drinking fountain. And I didn't have to keep raising and lowering the mouth of the bottle to keep the water flowing in as the pressure changed and the stream rose and fell.
Mostly I like the new bottle-filling station for the environmental benefits of avoiding the use of plastic water bottles. Consider:
- The U.S. consumes about 31 billion liters of bottled water per year, at an energy cost of more than 17 million barrels of oil.
- Some 4 billion PET bottles end up in the U.S. waste stream each year, costing municipalities some $70 million for disposal.
- It takes about three liters of water and 3,200 Btus to produce and fill a 1-liter plastic water bottle.
- In 2006, 44% of bottled water in the U.S., including Pepsi's Aquafina and Coca-Cola's Dasani brands, originated as municipal tap water, rather than spring water--so most bottled water is no different from water we get from a drinking fountain.
For an entertaining review of what's wrong with bottle water, see the great online video The Story of Bottled Waterfrom the producers of The Story of Stuff.
Elkay introduced the EZH2O bottle-filling station in February 2010. Gaelen Bell, of the company, told me that they've experienced "tremendous sales of these units" since it was introduced, with more than 1,500 units sold or shipped since launch. According to Bell, the product is "truly changing the landscape and perception of public water fountains."
Several different models are available for both new-installations and retrofit applications. For new installations, an in-wall, stand-alone model is available that can be installed alone or alongside a conventional Elkay Softsides® or SwirlFlo® drinking fountain. (A virtually identical HydroBoost model is available from Halsey Taylor, a subsidiary of Elkay.) These models are available with an Elkay integral 8-gallon chiller or can pair with larger Elkay remote chillers located within 15 feet. (When not used with a chiller, the flow rate is somewhat higher, at 1.5 gpm.)
Retrofit kits are also available to turn a standard "EZ-style" Elkay drinking fountain into a combination model that serves both drinking and bottle-filling.
Operation is sensor-activated, so users don't have to touch anything. The bottle can be held or set down for filling, which takes about six seconds. The unit delivers laminar, rather than aerated, flow making the units appropriate for hospitals (where there is concern that water aeration can aerosolize bacteria). All units meet ADA requirements.
Elkay's EZH2O bottle-filling stations filter water as it is dispensed. The easy-to-replace filter lasts for 3,000 gallons. Green, yellow, and red LED indicator lights on the unit alert custodial staff that replacement is needed. The plastic components surrounding the dispensing area are infused with a silver-ion antimicrobial material that helps to eliminate mold or bacteria.
Another nice feature is a "green ticker" that reports how many 16-ounce bottles (12-ounce bottles for chilled-water models) have been filled. The dispenser I filled my bottle with at O'Hare had saved 8,100 plastic water bottles in the short time since it had been installed, the lower one next to it, 660.
For more information:
Elkay Manufacturing Company
Oak Brook, Illinois
630-572-3192 (customer service)
email@example.com (e-mail customer service)
Alex Wilson is the executive editor of Environmental Building News and founder of BuildingGreen, LLC. In addition to this product-of-the week blog, he writes the weekly Energy Solutions blog. To keep up with his latest articles and musings, you can sign up for his Twitter feeds. Products covered in his product-of-the-week column are--or soon will be--listed in BuildingGreen's GreenSpec database.
See more on this product in the GreenSpec Guide
Posted by Alex Wilson on July 30, 2010
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