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February 23, 2015

Off the water grid: energy efficient and sustainable

University students live with "net zero" water system to test out the idea of decentralizing the urban water infrastructure

This University of Miami residence hall may look typical, but students in one of the apartments are participating in research involving one of the planet's most precious commodities -- water.

With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), environmental engineer James Englehardt and his team created a "net zero" water system, which serves most of the residents' daily needs, including dishwashing, showering and laundry. All of the water is treated just outside the building, and reused in a sustainable loop. This system even removes common household chemicals, such as cleaning solutions and pharmaceuticals.

The research in this episode is supported by NSF award #1038257, EFRI-SEED: Design for Autonomous Net-zero Water Buildings. EFRI-SEED is short for Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation--Science in Energy and Environmental Design.

Miles O'Brien, Science Nation Correspondent
Marsha Walton, Science Nation Producer

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations presented in this material are only those of the presenter grantee/researcher, author, or agency employee; and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.