Newswise — When it comes to laundry, Salisbury University can claim to be more advanced than any other college or university in the United States, at least that's what Stewart MacDonald Jr., chairman and CEO of Mac-Gray, the nation's largest provider of academic laundry facilities, says.
SU students living in residence halls can now check their laptops to see which washers and dryers are in use before heading for the laundry room.
No more toting plastic bottles—the washers automatically dispense a dye-free, fragrance-free hypo-allergenic detergent. The machines also require no quarters or tokens—the costs are part of residence hall fees. But best of all for students: They can get a text message when their laundry is finished.
"I'm amazed by the alert system, and especially the climate-friendly aspects of the new system," said Salisbury University President Janet-Dudley Eshbach. Finding that their laundry had been taken out of the machine by someone else wanting to use it had been the biggest complaint by students, according to MacDonald.
Sustainability was the top priority when the University decided to install the new system in all its residence halls, Dudley-Eshbach said.
"What we set out to do was be as energy efficient as possible," said Dave Gutoskey, SU housing and residence life director. The machines use only 12.6 gallons of water per cycle. SU's previous machines used 16 gallons, equaling a savings of approximately 109,670 gallons annually—enough to fill a typical municipal water tower. An ultra-fast spin cycle in the washers helps dry clothing faster, cutting down drying time and energy use.
Without those bulky detergent bottles, "plastic recycling has plummeted in the residence halls," Gutoskey added, noting the detergent containers once constituted the majority of the residence halls' plastic recyclables. Rewarding SU for its sustainable thinking, MacDonald recently presented Dudley-Eshbach with a certificate enrolling SU in the company's "Lighten the Load" program to reduce carbon footprints, making an annual contribution in SU's name to Carbonfund.org, one of the nation's leading carbon reduction organizations. Some 2.3 million pounds of carbon dioxide are expected to be offset as a result of this program through 2016, bringing SU one step closer to its goal of carbon neutrality.
According to Mac-Gray, other campuses installing the "PrecisionWash" machines include Yale University and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, although SU is the first to use it exclusively in all its residence halls.
Moms take note: the machines have been a hit with students. Junior Jen Starr of Mt. Airy, MD, said: "Not having to put detergent into the washers makes doing laundry a lot easier. It actually makes me want to do my laundry!"