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Take Your Facility Green

NEW YORK, N.Y. — Many people would like to take their facility ‘green’ but aren’t sure where to start. The process can also be overwhelming. But if you’re ready to reduce your business’ carbon footprint, there are several steps you can take. 

First, you must understand the basics. Everyone uses the term ‘Reduce – Reuse – Recycle.’ But do you really know what it means? To reduce is to use less of something, i.e. less water per pounds of linen, less btu’s per pounds of linen and less kwh per pounds of linen. When you reuse, you use a product several times before discarding. Water, energy and textiles are reused in a laundering operation. Recycling is when you take a product at the end of its useful life and remanufacture it into another useful product. We’re all familiar with the everyday procedure of recycling of aluminum cans, newspapers, glass and plastic at home. The challenge is extending that state-of-mind to the workplace.

Create A Green Culture

If you’re looking to take your facility green it’s smart to first create a Green Team. How do you do that? Create employee based work groups that meet regularly to identify Green opportunities within the company. This will empower the employees to take green responsibility in the day-to-day operations of the facility. You may also consider a gesture, i.e. lunch, for the department that meets their green goal monthly.

Once you’ve created your Green Team make sure everyone has a clear understand of what your green goals are. Remember, you can not manage what you don’t measure. Begin by measuring your utility usage per pound of linen. • Calculate fuel btu’s per pound of linen • Calculate kwh per pound of linen • Calculate gallons of water used per pound of linen • Create a report to track and monitor your progress.

The next step would be to measure your waste streams. Waste streams include the pounds of linens ragged out; pounds of plastic bags discarded; pounds of cardboard boxes discarded; number of pallets discarded and number of dumpster loads of trash picked up. After you’ve identified and measured your waste streams, sell any waste stream that carries residual value to recyclers. These waste streams would include ragged out linen, plastic, cardboard, pallets and scrap metal.

Turning Your Operations GREEN

Now you’re ready to take a look at the actual operation of your facility. Make sure you have properly sized boilers and a heat reclaimer. Fix all air, water and steam leaks. Maker sure there is proper insulation on all hot water and steam lines. Use a stack economizer and a vent condenser for the water boiler make-up tank. Savings in many different areas add up to large savings, monthly.

If you don’t already have a water reuse system – now is a good time to install one. Make sure you have inverter driven pumps and motors. Check that the steam traps on ironers are working properly and make sure all your equipment is maintained and in its best working order. There are many opportunities within your facility to go green too. Install energy efficient light bulbs and fixtures with automatic on/off lighting instead of light switches. Use sunlight reflecting materials on the building’s roof and consider installing skylights. Remember, white paint on the walls and ceiling will increase the efficiency of the facility’s lighting. Also consider a rainwater cistern. One inch of rain on one acre is 27,154 gallons!

You can also turn your back office and administrative offices green with electronic billing, recycling paper and toner cartridges. Make good use of your computer filing system and go paperless, or if you must print, use both sides of a page. Cut down on travel time and utilize conference calls versus face-to-face meetings and consider telecommuting for employees who do not need to be on site.

If your business makes use of vehicles, consider greening your fleet and take advantage of the new engine technology in heavy duty vehicles. 2007 Diesel Particulate Filters reduce the impact of the emissions from HD vehicles, and 2010 EPA Emissions Requirements continue to improve the emissions from HD Vehicles.

Installing a GPS system will aid in fleet management. The more efficient the route your driver takes, the better your fuel economy will be from the reduction of out of route miles. Monitor speed variances and set speed polices. Remember every mile above 50 mph reduces fuel mileage by 0.1 mph. And for those using highways in the process of delivering goods – promote the use of cruise control.

The information in this article was provided by the American Reusable Textile Association (ARTA),

Next month Laundry Today will speak to a laundry operator who has taken some of the steps above and has turned her business Green. We’ll see what was done, how long it took and what the final outcome has been.

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

Textile Services Industry Gets National Spotlight

WILIMGTON, Mass. — Textile service executive Ronald Croatti recently appeared on the CBS-TV show “Undercover Boss.” Croatti is CEO of UniFirst Corp., in Wilmington, Mass. For most Americans watching “Undercover Boss” it was their first view inside a commercial laundry, which typically process between 10 million and 25 million pounds of uniforms, table linens, bed sheets, towels and more every year “The reusable textile services business is the original green industry,” said Ricci. “Commercial laundries reuse linen instead of filing landfills with disposable alternatives and continually discover new, innovative means to reduce energy consumption and recycle water. Our huge economies of scale allow laundries to use about two-thirds less water, energy and detergent than alternatives, such as washing at home, while hygienically cleaning textile products, improving disease control and reducing contamination.”