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Grand Central Terminal Goes Green with Energy Efficient Hand Dryers

With more than 750,000 daily visitors, New York City’s iconic Grand Central Terminal is its own small city. It has 44 train platforms, 68 shops, and 35 restaurants across its 48 acres — with 24 XLERATOR high-speed, energy-efficient hand dryers keeping its restrooms clean and green. 

With its facility-wide focus on energy efficiency and sustainability goals such as LEED certification, Grand Central has proven that historic buildings can still be on the cutting edge of green technology. Steve Stroh, assistant deputy director of electrical and mechanical maintenance and 30-year Grand Central Terminal employee, has been instrumental in the facility’s forward-thinking initiatives. “Everything we do, we must look at with sustainability in mind,” Stroh says. “We’ve made a number of upgrades to Grand Central over the years, including updating the electrical, plumbing, and lighting systems led by our sustainability team.” 

Grand Central’s facilities have been described as the “best restrooms in New York City” by Joan Hamburg of WABC, known as New York Radio’s First Lady. For the new bathroom construction and renovation, Stroh sought out sustainable products, including the XLERATOR, which replaced paper towels and conventional hand dryers in the terminal’s facilities. 

The XLERATOR has a dry time of 8 seconds — tested to guidelines from the Global Hand Dryer PCR published by UL Environment — and it uses 80 percent less energy than conventional hand dryers. It represents a 95 percent cost savings when compared to paper towels, eliminating their labor, maintenance, and waste. “Paper towels typically end up in the toilets and plugging up sewer systems,” says Stroh. “With the XLERATOR, we don’t have to worry about paper towels ending up outside the garbage cans or plugging up our sewers.”

Eliminating paper towel waste also provides environmental benefits. A peer reviewed (ISO 14040 standards) Life Cycle Assessment of XLERATOR confirmed it reduces the carbon footprint of hand drying by 50-75 percent compared to both traditional hand dryers and even 100-percent recycled paper towels. 

 “The old hand dryers were nothing but a cheapo heating coil and a fan,” says Stroh. “The ladies room always had a line because the dryers took too long. I don’t have time for that.” And neither do the guests that visit Grand Central. “Not all of the people who come here ride the train,” Stroh continues. “They also come here to shop and eat, which means most of them use the restrooms.”

The hand dryer’s sensor-activated technology reduces touch points and improves hand hygiene. “Visitors don’t want to touch something that hundreds of other people have touched,” Stroh says. 

Trough-style dryers were tried in the employee restrooms, adds Stroh. According to Stroh, the trough-style hand dryers required more maintenance and collected excess water and waste.

The hand dryers “…take a lot of abuse,” Stroh elaborates. “The new covers are great for our application because we can scrub them to get rid of graffiti and keep them clean.” The newfound cleanliness of the restrooms is being noticed.

Because Grand Central Terminal is a national landmark, renovations can be challenging because of rules and regulations that protect landmark structures. Because of their aesthetics and design, the XLERATOR addresses Grand Central Terminal’s main concerns without compromising the original Beaux-Arts architecture.


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posted on 6/1/2018