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University of Chester

Our Future, In Our Hands.

This is the catch-all phrase that epitomises the University of Chester’s (UoC) sustainability policy. And it’s this mindset of universal responsibility and potential to generate change that led to the university approaching MIW Water Cooler Experts in 2017. Looking for ways to reduce waste plastic across the campus and to respond to student’s demands for improved drinking facilities, UoC contracted MIW to assess the site and advise on potential options.

The Brief

With a typical enrolment in the region of 15,000, UoC needed drinking facilities that would be able to withstand extremely high usage while answering a number of other criteria.

  • MIW initially visited UoC for a complete client consultation to understand exactly what was needed from the perspective of students and the UoC Project Management Team. A site engineer survey was completed, and technical advice provided.
  • The university required high capacity drinking facilities that would allow students to refill water bottles quickly, easily and cleanly for free. The units needed to be able to withstand a high degree of usage, be filtered to deliver the best quality of water – thus encouraging student use – and to be highly durable.
  • MIW needed to ensure that the bottle fillers met with strict water authority guidelines and were easily accessible for less able users, in line with the Equality Act (2010). BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) approval was also essential.
  • Prior to installation, all of the bottle fillers would need to be customised according to the UoC Project Management Team’s direction.
  • Finally, MIW would need to liaise with the UoC Project Management Team to coordinate a rolling two-year installation programme.

The Process

Building upon the University of Chester’s green ethos, the MIW team recommended the installation of Eco-Dispenser chilled bottle filling stations. The units have been designed for fast-paced or high traffic environments and are capable of filling up to 680 regular 500ml bottles with chilled, filtered water per hour. Hands-free operation reduces the chance of the units becoming damaged or dirty, while the narrow, wall-mounted design ensures that the bottle fillers do not turn corridors into obstacle courses. The recommended units were also WRAS-approved (Water Regulations Advisory Scheme), guaranteeing that they are fully compliant with water authority guidelines. Finally, the design makes the units easily accessible for all, in line with the Equality Act (2010).

MIW Water Cooler Experts also advised the Project Management Team on the best places across campus to site the bottle refill stations in order to maximise the potential usage. These included the library, student’s union building & the sports campus.

Once the model of bottle filler had been selected, MIW organised the customisation of each unit. The UoC required the bottle fillers to be branded and modified with the addition of electric bottle counters to monitor exact usage.

MIW then arranged an installation programme convenient to the UoC’s Project Management Team, avoiding times of increased activity where the work may cause disruption for students or staff.

The Completed Project

The initial brief from the University of Chester was for the installation of 19 sports bottle refill stations. However, the first installations proved so popular with students, staff and visitors that the Project Management Team revised the plan, asking MIW to install 30 units throughout a rolling two-year programme.

Survey Monkey research has revealed that to date, the University of Chester’s students have been extremely pleased with the bottle fillers installed by MIW. Overall, 650,000 single use plastic bottles have been saved from use since the units were installed.

UoC’s Nick Dudley, says: “Staff & Students enjoy ‘doing their bit’ by reusing bottles and also with it being free of charge it is far better than paying for each bottle. One of our machines saved 66,000 bottles in the space of 12 months which is fantastic.”

Following on from the success of the initial 30 bottle fillers located across the campus, the UoC is now considering the installation of a series of outdoor bottle refill stations to further enhance access for students and reduce plastic waste on site.

(Data collated & published 10th May 2019)