Laundry sustainability: Saving the environment and your bottom line

Environmental sustainability is a term one hears frequently in the hospitality industry. Guests want hotels that are conscious of their impact on the environment, and hotels want to streamline their processes and save money. Part of this may mean upgrading to newer laundry equipment in properties that may need it.

Craig Mustard, head of domestic brand management for Choice Hotels International, said these upgrades are now standard parts of the Econo Lodge brand’s green program, adding that high-efficiency laundry equipment is a good fodder for product improvement plans. “We are also changing out bedding in [Econo Lodge hotels] to make it easier to wash,” Mustard said. “We’re using less water and seeing shorter dryer times, and it helps to mandate these things as we go.”

But how can hotels know how to best save water and energy costs? According to David Carter, VP of strategic accounts for commercial laundry machine manufacturer Pellerin Milnor, the process is difficult for hotels due to how properties are built. Carter said he frequently has to pull historical records on the buildings occupied by hotels to get a full grasp on a hotel’s utility cost, as these utilities are often grouped together in one bill.

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“The way many hotels are built, [laundry] services are not often directly metered, so costs can’t be easily tracked,” Carter said. “This trend hasn’t changed much in new builds. Operators just know that laundry uses lots of gas and water, they don’t know just how much they can save, and hotels can run a very efficient laundry operation on property.”

According to Bill Brooks, national sales manager for laundry machine manufacturer Unimac, investing in washers with high-speed extraction capabilities reduces the amount of water needed during a wash while simultaneously cutting down on dryer time. “Hotels without G-force washers are making a poor choice,” Brooks said. “The savings they provide are huge, and pay for themselves many times over.”

Brooks also recommends dryers with moisture sensors, which determine when a load is dry and finishes the cycle without running unnecessarily. Brooks said that dryers running longer than they should is one of the largest problems in the industry energy-wise, and is easily solved.

“The concept of green is not defined consistently; everyone sees it differently,” Brooks said. “Efficiency is defined.”