Students may notice something different in the campus restrooms. Once students finish washing their hands, they turn to dry their hands on paper towels—only this semester, those towel holders are being replaced with warm air hand dryers.
According to Tom Clark, Director of Facilities Planning, there are 50 restrooms around campus. Most restrooms include signs on the door, notifying students about the new hand dryers.
“The buildings converted so far to include warm-air hand dryers in high-use restrooms include Ruby Jones Hall, Merion Science Center, Schmucker Science Center, Anderson Hall, Recitation Hall, Main Hall, Old Library, Farrell Stadium and 25 University Ave,” Clark said. “High-use restrooms in Sturzebecker Health Science Center and Hollinger Fieldhouse will follow in a second phase of funding, with additional buildings planned as well.”
So why were the dryers installed in campus restrooms? Clark notes that because WCU has faced commonwealth level funding cuts and a campus-wide want for proceeding with Environmental Sustainability efforts on WCU’s campus, the warm air dyers were installed as a part of the plan to make WCU a more environmentally friendly campus.
“In 2010, WCU’s President signed the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment, which includes the development of a blueprint for a campus plan to become carbon neutral at some point in the future,” Clark said. “As part of the movement towards both fiscal responsibility and environmental sustainability, the installation of these warm-air hand dryers in university restrooms seemed the perfect match of these two university goals.”
Clark also mentions that the warm-air hand dryers have increased air velocity, which allows hands to be dry within 10 seconds.
With the main purpose of these hand-dryers of being environmentally friendly, many may wonder what exactly makes them good for the environment.
“Use of the warm-air hand dryers in place of paper towels (even with the increased electricity usage) consumes half of the energy required to produce, transport and manage the waste of paper towels,” Clark said. “The use of hand dryers also produces 18 times less greenhouse gases then the corresponding use of paper towels. Of course, landfills receive far less volume by the absence of paper towel waste.” Clark also noted that the methane that is produced during decomposition of waste products in landfills is one of the major contributors to greenhouse gases.
When students, faculty, and staff use these hand dryers, they should keep in mind that not only are these hand-dryers making drying hands more speedy and thorough, but they are also saving the environment and making WCU a more friendly campus to the environment.
Angela Thomas is a fourth-year student majoring in English. She can be reached at AT683005@wcupa.edu.