Alec Janda ’10, who just finished his junior year at Ohio State University, saw the fruits of almost two years of work when, last summer, he helped install the first rainwater catchment system at the university. Not only did he help build it, it was his brainchild! “I actually worked on the system from proposing the project to putting in the final bolt,” he says.
After attending a conference on rainwater catchment systems with his dad, Scott Janda ’80, Janda became interested in the topic. In theory, a rainwater catchment system could provide a home with all the fresh water it needs, allowing the owners to be completely self-sufficient and not dependent on city water. He says, “This is something very simple that’s been around for thousands of years…We’re spending billions of dollars on areas like solar and wind and we could spend just a few thousand dollars on rainwater catchment.”
After arriving at OSU his freshman year, Janda approached the director of Ohio State’s Energy Services and Sustainability and told her of his idea to install a rainwater catchment system to mitigate storm water runoff and create a potable supply of fresh water for reuse by plants and people.
Initially, Janda says that she did not take him seriously, thinking he would never follow through on his ideas. But, he remained committed to the project, sending reminder emails and following up, which, in turn, let the school officials know he was serious about the project.
His persistence paid off. The project was eventually awarded a $50,000 grant from the Presidents and Provosts Council at OSU, which allowed the university to build a rainwater catchment system on a set of greenhouses. The system catches 10,000 gallons of water from a 2 inch rainfall and provides all the water used to water the plants.
Janda so impressed the company building the system that they hired him to work for them last summer. He enjoyed being able to see the project through from start to finish.
With the buzz that the project generated on campus and beyond, Janda has been asked to weigh in on other rainwater projects at Ohio State. But, he doesn’t feel that he has enough time left on campus to see another project through. Rather, he hopes that his efforts have created awareness and that they will inspire other students to pick up where he left off and continue with more sustainability initiatives at the school.
In the meantime, Janda has been busy with two more side projects. The first is a company, called Renewable Refreshments, which he and his business partner, a fellow student in one of his entrepreneurship classes, hope to start soon. The company will produce aluminum bottles that will be sold in venues where the consumer will purchase, consume and dispose of the bottle. The bottles will then be collected from the recycling containers, sterilized and reused. The duo had hoped to start production of the bottles this spring, but the project has been put on hold for now due to time constraints.
The other thing keeping Janda busy these days is an internship with Enpac Corporation, a mid-sized manufacturer of plastic spill containment products. He will be working there full-time as an account manager when he graduates in December 2013.