Water Efficiency

Reduce potable water consumption by 10% per capita every five years

By conducting building water audits, fixing leaks and installing low-flow fixtures, the university has reduced potable water use by nearly 29% by 379 million gallons since 2015. In 2021, the university increased its reduction target to 10% from the original 5% per capita by 2025.

Home to more than 100,000 students, faculty, staff and visitors each day, Ohio State is comparable to a medium-sized city. The university uses more than 1.3 billion gallons of water per year — enough to fill Ohio Stadium more than 3.5 times. Ohio State aims to further increase water efficiency by making infrastructure improvements and reducing water consumption.

Additional accomplishments and initiatives

  • Over 5,000 tons of materials are recycled or reused every year. Standard signage and bin design have been enhanced to encourage students, faculty and staff to recycle correctly. 
  • Ohio State collects food scraps, animal bedding, and compostable containers from over 30 locations across campus to be used toward a more beneficial use. For example, Landscape Services uses composted organic material generated on campus in plant beds to improve soil health while minimizing waste. 
  • The university’s waste diversion rate reached 35.3% in fiscal year 2021. 
  • Two Medical Center buildings will serve as pilot locations for a new hard-to-recycle plastics program 
  • Ohio State’s Recycle Right campaign is aligned with SWACO efforts, with the two organizations sharing data results and campaign successes for wider community impact beyond the university’s Columbus campus 
  • Ohio State Food Waste Collaborative, a collection of researchers, practitioners and students, promotes the reduction and redirection of food waste. 
  • Ohio State donates nearly 50 tons of uneaten food annually to the Mid-Ohio Food Bank. 

Water Consumption Baseline (2015):
21,755 gallons per weighted campus user (population adjusted to how intensively community members use the campus)
Water Consumption Performance (2021):
16,677 gallons per weighted campus user
Water Consumption Goal (2025):
15,224 gallons per weighted campus user
Water Consumption Reduction (To Date): 29%

Take action

  • Take short showers rather than baths.
  • Install water-saving shower heads.
  • Report leaks from faucets and pipes when you see them.  
  • Run your washing machine and dishwasher only when you have full loads.
  • Avoid ice use at drink stations.