UBC Undergraduate Research

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly : Assessing Indoor Water Fountains on the UBC Campus : final report Dha, Neetu; Hui, Nicole; Yu, Onyx; Li, Aaron


This research project is in collaboration with the SEEDS (Social Ecological Economic Development Studies) program at UBC to assess the quality of indoor water fountains, increase accessibility and usage of water fountains, and promote healthier drinking choices on the UBC campus. Regarding existing research on water fountains, there exists a gap where the only comprehensive inventory list of water fountains was compiled seven years ago and is since outdated. In addition, not much research has been done to assess behaviors and factors influencing fountain usage of UBC students. To achieve our goals of assessing the quality of water fountains, increasing accessibility and usage of water fountains whilst promoting healthier drinking choices on the UBC campus, we identified three research aims: 1. To compile a comprehensive inventory list of water fountains and their characteristics from publicly accessible buildings within our area of study. 2. Increase accessibility of water fountains that are inconveniently located by suggesting improvements to existing water fountains. 3. Conduct an online survey to understand student perceptions, factors, and behaviors of water fountains and potential barriers to their usage. Our inventory list of water fountains was conducted through a participant observation in which we noted their characteristics such as location, fountain type, cleanliness, taste, water pressure, etc. Because we aim to improve water fountains in publicly accessible student buildings, we excluded buildings such as sport facilities, laboratories, buildings scheduled for demolition or renovation, residences, and dormitories, office, and administrative buildings from our prioritized inventory list. To mitigate subjectiveness in our ethnography, we created predetermined measures and conducted a test run to confirm synchronized categorization. Our ethnography was also conducted in pairs to ensure accurate classification. Given how our research was more quantitative, we conducted a non-probability online survey to incorporate qualitative measures. We distributed our online survey through word of mouth, social media outlets, and wide broadcasted emails. From our survey responses, the most significant findings were that the biggest obstacle in fountain usage was students locating the fountains, students were less environmentally friendly when it came to drinks other than bottled water, and views on added signage were mixed. From our inventory list of water fountains, we found that many fountains across campus lacked signage and mapping. Fountains in buildings on the southside of campus were on average of lower quality than those on the northside. Another pressing finding was that a sizable number of fountains across campus did not have refill spouts, making it difficult to refill reusable bottles. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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