The Environmental Protection Agency is investing $75,000 more into a wireless device that can monitor how long hotel guests spend in the shower.
The project, first reported by the Washington Free Beacon last year, is attempting to "assist hotel guests in modifying their behavior" by spending less time in the shower to reduce their water consumption.
A team of researchers at the University of Tulsa first received a $15,000 grant through the EPA’s P3 program, or "People, Prosperity and the Planet," a competition for college students to create green technology. Teams that are selected by the EPA then display their results at the "National Sustainable Design Expo" to compete for additional grants worth up to $75,000.
The hotel shower monitoring project received $74,999 in December, bringing its total to roughly $90,000.
The purpose of the project is to create a wireless device that can be installed onto hotel showers to transmit how much water a guest uses to a central data system located in the hotel.
"This technology will provide hotel guests with the ability to monitor their daily water online or using a smartphone app and will assist hotel guest in modifying their behavior to help conserve water," the grant for the project said.
The initial goal of the study was to nudge hotel guests into reducing their showers to seven minutes or less. A University of Tulsa researcher did not respond to a request for comment on an update of their work.
An EPA spokesperson told the Washington Free Beacon that the additional funding should not be seen as an endorsement of the project.
"This program encourages creativity and innovative thinking by young scientists participating in a science fair focusing on sustainability," the spokesperson said. "It does not imply endorsement of a technology."
The spokesperson said the hotel shower monitoring device received the second phase grant following a "rigorous review and judging process by a panel of external experts."
When asked why the EPA is investing more funding into the device when the agency believes the marketplace should determine whether there is demand for hotel shower monitoring, the spokesperson said the EPA encourages college students to get involved in STEM.
"The P3 program supports national STEM efforts and aims to engage the next generation of scientists to apply their knowledge and learning outside the classroom—with the development of sustainability projects," the spokesperson said. "The marketplace will decide if there is a demand for this type of technology."