New hand dryers part of Green Energy Fee program

Jeremy Smith
University Communications intern
Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - 11:20am

Western Washington University's Green Energy Fee Program completed another project Feb. 17 when Facilities Management completed the installation of four high-speed Dyson Airblade hand dryers in the basement restrooms in Arntzen Hall.

The brainchild of Western sophomore Mike Gore, junior Bodie Cabiyo and senior Jordan Murphy, the project developed from an assignment in the students' campus sustainability planning class.

“The original project idea [we were given] was how to increase trash bins on campus,” Murphy said. “It ended up changing to how we could decrease paper towel usage on campus instead.”

The project goes hand-in-hand with the paper towel composting project, currently taking place in Haggard Hall, as a way for the university to gauge which is the better option for the university’s sustainability goals.

Twenty-five percent of campus waste comes from paper towels, Cabiyo said. By applying the projects to the two most-used restrooms on campus, the Office of Sustainability can judge whether the use of the new air dryers or paper towel composting is more cost-effective and beneficial to campus sustainability.

“The [Dyson] hand dryers are more sanitary than both paper towels and the other hand dryers on campus,” Murphy said. “The air is not heated, and there is no paper towel waste [because the towel dispensers are removed].”

Green Energy Fee program adviser Kathryn Freeman believes that the university will save money, despite the extra use of electricity, because of the cut to the amount of paper towels needed for the high-density restrooms. She estimates the project will have paid for itself in three years. The project was allocated $13,000 for all the costs, including permits, construction, installation and education on the new hand dryers.

Next on the agenda for the Green Energy Fee program is the solar array installation on the Environmental Studies building and the LED retrofit of one of the C lot parking lots. A town hall meeting to discuss the solar panel project will be held at noon on Wednesday, Feb. 22, in Environmental Studies Room 100.

“We are planning to have both projects completed during spring break,” Freeman said. “We have to bring in a crane for the solar panels, and we need the free space in the parking lots to update all the lights.”

To allow the university to compare energy usage, only the upper C lot will be retrofitted. That lot is on a separate grid from the lower lots.