This is a simple idea, but I think it can make a big impact if implemented across the Federal government. I am a graduate intern and am quite busy right now (work, thesis, etc.) so I have not been able to further research this idea, unfortunately. I think the analysis is worth doing, though, and would happy to assist with such research in the future. So here is my idea:
Water drinking fountains are wasteful; unless refilling a water bottle or some other container, most water goes down the drain due to the inefficiencies of our lips, I suppose. Is it worth it to provide (sustainably made and disposable) cups at every drinking fountain? This would use/waste less water and simultanesouly require less energy utilized by the fountain (i.e. the fountain would run for less time and use less energy to chill less water).
A full life cycle analysis would need to be completed, but my guess is that the results will bear a net positive benefit. If sustainably made cups are used (i.e. made from unbleached, recycled materials) and are recycleable, I think this idea will cause an overall decrease in our carbon footprint, water use, and energy use. The Federal government currently recycles (though somewhat inefficiently due to awareness issues), and existing infrastructure may be sufficient. Minor changes such as redistributing/relocating receptacles and/or purchasing new receptacles may be necessary.
Additionally, signage encouraging use of reusable containers can be employed. Perhaps such containers can be used as prizes in the various government competitions.
This program will work towards several Federal initiatives regarding Federal energy use, climate change, social responsibility, etc.
Thank you and good luck with the incoming ideas!
USDOE, Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy
MS Climate (Change) Science & Policy, Bard College