Feature Article - April 2011
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Maintenance Series: Eco-Friendly

Clean and Green
Eco-Friendlier Maintenance Practices

By Dawn Klingensmith

It's one of the pressing questions of our time: Which is better, hand dryers or paper towels?

Joking aside, knowing the answer once and for all would be of benefit to the environment as well as your bottom line. Several studies have compared the environmental costs of dryers and towels, calculating how much energy is used in their production and how much upkeep is required when a facility uses one vs. the other. Research suggests hand dryers are the greener choice most of the time, and they don't disperse germs as previously feared. Still, a 2008 study indicated that European consumers much prefer paper towels over dryers in public washrooms (63 percent vs. 28 percent). And your customers' preferences are important, right?

Our purpose here is not to weigh in on this debate, but to hold it up as an example of the types of issues encountered by facility owners who resolve to "green up" their maintenance programs with an eye toward conserving resources and reducing operating costs.

Other commonly voiced concerns (in no particular order or degree of seriousness): Green cleaning products might not clean as efficiently and effectively as chemical cleaners; eco-friendly facility upgrades have formidable up-front costs; green products are more expensive; and recycled toilet tissue is uncomfortable if not injurious.