Sustainability Project: Rain Collector

Management: Upgrade


The United Nations launched its sustainable development agenda in 2015, reflecting the growing understanding by Member States that a development model that is sustainable for this and future generations offers the best path forward for reducing poverty and improving the lives of people everywhere.

With the idea of contributing to the sustainability development agenda of the United Nations, the Ángel Ramos Foundation Science and Visitor Center (ARFSVC) of the Arecibo Observatory installed a system to collect rain water and use it to flush the toilets of the Center. The system can collect up to 500 gallons of water and has already been installed. It is estimated that over 2,000 gallons of water can be saved per year using this system. “The rain collector will be part of the exhibitions of the ARFSVC where the visitors can learn the sciences and the we study at AO and, at the same time, learn about our compromise with the environment and sustainability” – said Dr. Abniel Machín, executive director of the Science and Visitor Center.

As for future projects, we plan to install additional rain collectors in other buildings of the facility, start a compost program, and train the nearby communities in the importance of sustainability and sustainable practices.

Why is it so important that the Arecibo Observatory is going green?

The Arecibo Observatory has been an icon of astronomy, planetary and space sciences. But as a facility, we are also aware of the importance of protecting the environment and creating a sustainable workspace for ourselves and the future generation of scientists. By going green, AO can:

1. Save on energy costs through recycling, energy conservation, energy-efficient office equipment, and water-saving devices.
2. Attract the best possible employees at a state-of-the-art facility that looks after people as well as the environment.
3. Save time, reduce company overhead expenses and increase staff satisfaction by creating flexible work schedules, including telecommuting.
4. Reduce indoor air pollution by greening the buildings with plants.
5. Motivate AO staff by getting them involved in making the business, office and other workplaces greener and more energy-efficient.
6. Create a more relaxed work environment for the AO staff by connecting the business aspect of life to the natural world.

With the collapse of the radio-telescope, AO has made sure that the environmental impact of the cleaning is the minimum. We have been able to maintain an equilibrium between the flora and fauna of the facilities while coexisting with the human activities generated by the cleaning of the site. It is our priority to preserve the natural resources and species of the area. As part of our future plans, we plan to implement an Eco-Tour around the facilities to show visitors the importance of protecting the environment, the flora and fauna of AO, and the development of research areas focused in sustainability and geo-sciences.

Article written by Dr. Abniel Machín ( - Executive Director of AO's Science & Visitor Center

Director of Communications
Ricardo Correa
Observatorio de Arecibo
787-878-2612 ext. 615