Engineering student designed rainwater-collector watering Fairfield University campus


Image: SOE studentsThink of a residential rain barrel, but on a very, very big scale.

That's one way to describe a Fairfield University student-designed rainwater-harvesting system recently installed on a campus building roof, which is projected to corral 41,000 gallons of rainwater annually to use on the University's lawns, shrubs and flowers. With each inch of rain, approximately 560 gallons of water can be collected. The eco-friendly endeavor is expected to shave off costs from the University's water bill, while reusing otherwise wasted storm water runoff. Harvesting projects like this one alleviate environmental strain like soil erosion and damage to animals' habitats, while thwarting flooding.

"The goal of this harvesting system is to provide the University with a sustainable, cost saving water collection system," said Joseph Bocchino, of Mills, Massachusetts, who came up with the idea with fellow recent School of Engineering graduates Andrew Jackowitz, of Moosic, Penn., and John Perry, of Farmington, Connecticut. The three mechanical engineering majors designed the system's collection site so that it runs alongside the Barone Campus Center's 4th floor roof and 3rd floor food court patio - a ~1,100 square foot area. Existing rain leaders and pipes are used to gather water down to a new 1,100-gallon water storage tank in the mechanical room on the 1st floor. From the tank, the rainwater is pumped into an irrigation line and then used to water the lawn and greenery nearby. The harvested rainwater can also be put into the University watering truck that is used all over the 200-acre campus.

Image: SOE students

"It's a sustainability project in the best sense," said David Frassinelli, associate vice president for Facilities Management, which helped install the system. "We envision replicating this system to other University buildings."

The Campus Sustainability Committee awarded the students a $1,500 grant for their project, which is an effort to further reduce the campus carbon footprint.

Representing the new generation of engineers and scientists, we have to realize that our resources are not all renewable and that this should be a significant consideration in our design solutions, said the students. The group devised the system for the two-semester Senior Design course, which challenges seniors to devise needed tools and systems. The course was taught by faculty member Dr. Shahrokh Etemad, with Dr. Shanon Reckinger serving as faculty advisor.

Image (top): Three Fairfield University graduates developed a rainwater harvesting system for the campus, with guidance from School of Engineering faculty Dr. Shahrokh Etemad, left, and Dr. Shanon Reckinger. (L-R) Joseph Bocchino, Andrew Jackowitz, John Perry.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on June 7, 2013

Vol. 45, No. 303