Fight the Flow, Phase II: Residence Halls and University Village

nature village logo
PowerSave Campus

Project Leads: Emily Wong, Omsri Bharat, Mila Moran

TGIF Mini-Grant: $2,000

Sponsor: Nature Village, PowerSave Campus

Project Theme: Water Conservation & Tap Water

Project Location

2012 Mini-Grant Application Submission

Status: In Progress

Project Description: This project is meant to reduce water consumption by allowing families/students to adjust the flow settings of their showerheads so that the shower flow is not always at full capacity. In addition, the project serves to implement behavior changes in people on saving water. UZLow showerheads are designed with a lever to give the user the option to use a low flow shower stream. By allowing for a low flow option but also having the option to use full flow, the showerheads accommodate everyone's needs. 

UZLOWAbout the UZLOW valve: When utilized, the UZLOW valve reduces water and natural gas (used to heat water) consumption by reducing hot water flow when shampooing, shaving, or soaping up. In this low position, the valve allows just enough water to flow, so water stays at the original temperature. There is no burst of cold water when switching back to regular flow, making this a popular option for residents.

UZLOW LLC is a small, locally owned company that has helped immensely in the development and implementation of this project. Philip Bautch (owner of UZLOW) accommodated this grant's large orders and has subsequently received large requests from other campuses pursuing similar retrofits.

Project Goals: This project will supply low flow, UZLow showerheads to residence halls as well as to family housing in University Village. Of the 974 families living in University Village, 50 will be participating in a pilot project in introducing these showerheads.This will be a continuation of the TGIF Fight the Flow project from 2011, which implemented this project successfully in residence halls (Unit 1), and this new grant will cover showerhead and marketing costs for both Unit 2 and University Village. The team will assess approximately how long showers are used through pre-implementation surveys, and will assess behavior changes and the adoption rate of the low-flow showerheads through post-implementation surveys. The goal is to obtain measurable, attainable savings for water and CO2, using similar methods conducted in the first Fight the Flow grant.

Estimated hard metrics= (50 families)*(2 people/family)*(1 shower/person)*(5.9 gallons/shower)*(365days/year)=215350 gallons/year 

TGIF Blog Posts about Fight the Flow

2012-2013 Accomplishments
  • UZLOW showerheads arrived at UC Berkeley and an attempt at installation was made at both Unit 2 and University Village. 
  • It was discovered that the showerhead design has been changed since the project was completed at Unit 1. This resulted in the showerheads being leaky and unfixable with plumber's tape.
  • Project leaders are currently working with the UZLOW representative to fix the matter. The change in the showerhead designs has placed the project on hold as no installations can be completed. 
  • Fight the Flow won a 2013 Best Practice Award in the Student Energy Efficiency category. The team received its award at the 2013 California Higher Education Sustainability Conference.
    • "UC Berkeley's Fight the Flow is an excellent example of how saving water can also result in significant energy savings. UCB PowerSave interns installed 124 UZLOW shower valves in two of their residence halls and conducted ongoing campaign to residents to educate them on how to use the valve and its potential savings. When in use, the UZLOW valve reduces both water consumption and the natural gas used to heat water by decreasing hot water flow when shampooing, shaving, or soaping up. From 1990 to 2009 the UC Berkeley residence halls displayed a 10% increase in water usage; however, the 570,000 gallons of annual water saved by Fight the Flow returned the building's usage to 1991 levels in less than one year. These water savings translate to 950 therms in annual energy savings. The Fight the Flow campaign was so successful that it is being expanded to another residence hall and a university family housing complex."
    • Award Application


Fight the Flow Best Practice Award Presentation, CHESC 2013


PowerSave Campus Fight the Flow Best Practices Award
PowerSave Campus receiving the 2013 Best Practice Award in 
the Student Energy Efficiency Category.
photo credit Baron Spafford  

2013-2014 Progress

  • PowerSave Campus made an agreement with UZLOW to mediate the problem of the changed showerhead design not fitting in Unit 2 and University Village. UZLOW agreed to send a new set of 150 showerheads at no additional cost and these arrived on campus in October.
  • PowerSave Campus is exploring Channing Bowditch apartments, Ida Jackson graduation housing, or Greek housing as potential locations for the first batch of showerheads (the ones that did not fit Unit 2 and University Village).
  • PowerSave Campus has been working with Nature Village to design an educational brochure for the residents at University Village who will be receiving the UZLOW valves. PowerSave interns will conduct pre- and post-installation surveys of residents. 100 showers are expected to receive the UZLOW valves installations.
  • Despite the success at Unit 1, new campus installations have been met with resistance from residence hall plumbing staff who fear the valves will cause "flashing", which refers to a switch in the temperature of the water changing when the low-flow shower valve is switched. PowerSave is working to show this is not the case; in addition, such flashing is explicity listed by the manufacturer as not happening with this product.

Mission Statement

The Green Initiative Fund (TGIF) provides funding for projects that reduce UC Berkeley's negative impact on the environment and make UC Berkeley more sustainable. TGIF will allocate funds to projects that promote sustainable modes of transportation, increase energy and water efficiency, restore habitat, promote environmental and food justice, and reduce the amount of waste created by UC Berkeley. Portions of the fund also support education and behavior change initiatives, student aid (via return to aid), and internships. TGIF is supported by student fees and administered through a student-majority committee and a program coordinator.