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Operators Thinking 'Green' in Mat Service Could Save Green on Utilities

Amy Streeton |

Thinking “green” with mat service could save textile service operators green on their utility and water bills.
Too often, we take the abundant availability of energy and water for granted. However, across the country, governments at different levels are discussing emissions related to energy generation and vehicles that contribute to poor air quality. Also on the agenda are conflicting demands on fluctuating water levels.
These critical issues may dramatically affect business operations in the textile service industry. Taking action now to reduce consumption could prove beneficial to the Earth’s future and at the same time help an operator’s bottom line.PRODUCT CONSTRUCTION
Lowering costs from energy and water use related to mat service may also be influenced by how the mats are engineered during manufacturing. When the time comes to select new mats, take a broad or holistic view on the cost of the mat during its projected useful life cycle, including water and energy expenses required for laundering.
Advances in technology and innovations in green chemistries continue to expand product choices in the mat market. Durable, yet lightweight, mats offer extended product life with lower maintenance costs. Less weight per mat allows operators to put more pieces on the truck and in each washer load for the same transport and maintenance costs as a heavier product. Over the life cycle, they will use less energy per mat, thus contributing to healthier profits.
Construction and design of the mats can also contribute to savings in other ways. For example, the perforations in the production of nylon and rubber mats eliminate the need to dry the mats. One step removed from the maintenance cycle means faster turnaround at lower costs in the service cycle.SAVE ON ENERGY
Energy efficiency is becoming a larger issue for anyone managing product selection and building operations. More frequently, we are seeing Environmentally Preferable Product (EPP) guidelines with detailed questions about product manufacturing practices, life cycle assessments and end-of-life options related to energy use as part of purchasing.
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings.
The U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate, measurable impact on their buildings’ performance. Certification under the system adds prestige and value in many markets. The level of certification is determined by points, including housekeeping, and mats may contribute to the total.
Perforations in the production of nylon and rubber mats eliminate the need to dry the mats. One step removed from the mat's maintenance cycle means faster turnaround at lower costs in the service cycle.
In mid-2007, the USGBC membership approved a requirement that all LEED-certified projects achieve at least two “Optimize Energy Performance” points within the certification process. This change will improve the energy performance of all LEED-certified green buildings by 14% for new construction and 7% for existing buildings. This action shows a commitment to solutions for climate change, as well as for energy use reduction that will affect the building and operation of buildings in every state.
As LEED encourages choices that evaluate the full supply chain, having an energy-efficient operation could be as important to customers as it is to operators. With mats that require no drying, operators can save up to 15% on processing costs.
To be more specific, the Btu output for a standard 600-pound dryer is 3,000,000 Btu/hour. If you assume a dryer typically fires for seven to eight minutes, you can eliminate the cost of drying 750 pounds (1.25 load factor) of mats from the expense column.
Members of the textile industry and their customers collaborate along the supply chain to address pollution prevention and resource conservation. As part of that effort, chemical companies are exploring ways to develop more efficient green chemistries to clean mats with less product. Another avenue of research is looking at making chemicals effective at lower wash temperatures to lower fuel usage in the wash room.CONSERVING WATER
Concerns about water quality and quantity are placing more attention on water conservation and access to water supplies.
In July, the leaders of six of the world’s largest companies issued a call to action urging their fellow business peers to take immediate action to address the emerging global water crisis.
On the local level, demand is increasing while weather fluctuations are affecting expectations about availability. Community and state governments in areas that previously implemented seasonal restrictions are periodically broadening the scope of mandates regulating water use as supply sources become less predictable. Industries that depend on water to operate profitably may face rising costs with shrinking supplies.
The fundamental principles of recycle and reuse have shaped the textile service industry. LaundryESP, a joint voluntary industry initiative between the Uniform & Textile Service Association (UTSA) and the Textile Rental Services Association (TRSA), accounts for 70% of the industry’s savings, with a primary goal of expanding the textile service industry’s continued commitment to its local environments. This partnership offers a cost-effective means for many facilities to enhance their environmental performance.
As more voices enter the debate on how energy is generated and the impact of emissions from those actions on air quality and human health, more attention will be focused on monitoring and pricing energy production. Water doesn’t have an unlimited reserve, or guarantee of replacement. As we compete for the same resources, it’s smart to measure use to know when and how to make reductions. A combination of reduced use and conservation will save money and prepare for change.
As we become more informed about green products and sustainable operations, it becomes clearer that healthier and safer workplaces are integrated with environmental and financial concerns. Selecting mat products that look better for longer periods and making decisions that reduce consumption are part of running a green business. The benefits are lower energy and water costs for mat maintenance.
 

About the author

Amy Streeton

Milliken Walk Off Mats, a division of Milliken & Co.

Development Manager

Amy B. Streeton is development manager with Milliken Walk Off Mats, a division of Milliken & Co. To learn about Milliken Walk Off Mats’ portfolio of products, visit its website at www.millikenwalkoffmats.com or contact Streeton at 800-342-5539 or by e-mail.

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