It takes a lot of resources to get linens clean and the laundry process has a huge environmental impact. Laundry managers throughout the history of commercial laundry have known that it takes a lot of water to get linens clean – an average of 3 gallons of water for each pound. The majority of that water has to be heated too. Usually, the hotter the water the better it works. Routinely, 70% of water used in a laundry is heated up to 100-degrees or more. If you use 3 gallons of water per pound of linen processed and 70% of that is heated, you can see how much water and energy will be used to clean your linens each day.
Let’s say you are doing at least 5,000 pounds per day (250-room hotel), you will use 15,000 gallons of water each day. If you heat 70% of that, you will heat about 10,500 gallons of water. If your tap water temperature is roughly 60-degrees and you want your wash water temperature to be 160-degrees, then you will heat 10,500 gallons of water by 100-degrees. Heating 10,500 gallons of water will take an enormous amount of energy. An 18-wheeler tanker truck will not quite hold 9,000 gallons. That’s a lot of water to heat every day.
Heat energy is sometimes expressed in units called Btu’s or British Thermal Units. This standard unit of measure is defined as the energy required to heat one pound of water by one degree. Water weighs 8.3452641 pounds per gallon so 10,500 gallons of water weighs 87,625 pounds. Heating that by 100-degrees will take approximately 8,762,527 Btu’s. That is an enormous amount of energy and that’s not counting any inefficiency in the boiler.
The energy used to heat the water usually comes from Natural Gas or electricity. Natural Gas is a Carbon-based fossil fuel that produces Green House Gases (GHG’s) when burned. Electricity used will most probably be produced by coal which is also a Carbon-based fossil fuel that produces GHG’s when burned.
Natural Gas volume is usually stated in cubic feet (cf). One cubic foot of Natural Gas will produce about 1,030 Btu’s when burned. Each thousand cubic feet (MCF) of Natural Gas (1,000 ft3) burned releases about 120.593 pounds of carbon into the atmosphere.
If your laundry is using 8,762,527 Btu’s per day to heat its water, that means you are using approximately 8,507 cf of Natural Gas (8.5 MCF) per day which equates to releasing 1,025 pounds of carbon (over ½ a Ton) into the atmosphere EVERY SINGLE DAY and that’s just to heat the water. A typical laundry uses about the same amount of energy in the dryers as it does to heat the water so your actual carbon production is 2,050 pounds per day. That’s over a ton a day! This means that a relatively small laundry producing about 1.75 million pounds of linen per year (5,000 pounds per day), will cause 748,250 pounds of Carbon to be released into the atmosphere every year. That’s 321 tons of Carbon adding to the growing problem of Global Warming! An average automobile releases about 20 tons of Carbon per year. A laundry for a 250-room hotel releases almost as much Carbon into the atmosphere as 19 average cars! Would you have ever believed it? Wouldn’t you rather be adding Carbon to the atmosphere by driving your car or watching TV or doing something else a little more fun than washing linens?