Paper Towels Have Left the Station
With more than 750,000 daily visitors, New York City’s iconic Grand Central Terminal is its own small city within the greatest city in the world. 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. One thing you won’t find? Paper towels.
It’s a big job, but XLERATOR has proven itself up to the task. And 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. Let me put it this way, we changed every light bulb in the place. And there are 60,000 of them.”
XLERATORS Are On Board
For the new bathroom construction and renovation, Stroh sought out sustainable products, including the XLERATOR, which replaced the paper towels and conventional hand dryers in the terminal’s facilities.
The XLERATOR is the only hand dryer in the industry with 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. It’s eliminated the need for paper towels in our restrooms.”
“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.”
Fast Track to Sustainability
Today, New York City’s Grand Central Terminal is a national landmark. But if not for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Grand Central Terminal and all of its history would have been demolished in the 1970s. She formed the Committee To Save Grand Central Station and urged then-Mayor Abe Beam to preserve the terminal. Every aspect of Grand Central is designed to honor that legacy.
Grand Central installed XLERATOR Hand Dryers to support a sustainable transformation of the facility. The renovations can be challenging because of rules and regulations that protect landmark structures. Because of their aesthetics and design, the XLERATOR solves Grand Central Terminal’s main concerns without compromising the original Beaux-Arts architecture.
Trough-Style Dryers Went Off the Rails
The XLERATOR Hand Dryer’s sensor-activated technology reduces touch points and significantly improves hand hygiene. “Visitors don’t want to touch something that hundreds of other people have touched,” Stroh says.
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.
“We also tried Dyson Airblade hand dryers in our employee restrooms,” adds Stroh. “But it was a test that didn’t pass. We had more problems with those not working.”
According to Stroh, the trough-style hand dryers required more maintenance and collected excess water and waste, which is why the XLERATOR Hand Dryer is now used throughout the public and office spaces of the terminal.
On the Right Track
Grand Central Terminal’s high-traffic environment requires solutions with the industry’s best warranties calling out customer relations representatives by name, he values Excel Dryer’s commitment to customer support. The XLERATOR 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.
Since XLERATOR has been so successful in Grand Central Terminal, it has clearly demonstrated that it is a perfect solution for other high-traffic venues and historic buildings that are looking toward the future with green technology.
Excel Dryer’s expanded product line — featuring XLERATOR, XLERATOReco® and ThinAir® Hand Dryers — now comes with enhanced features including sound, speed and heat control, multi-voltage options (110-120V or 208-277V) and an externally visible service LED to streamline maintenance. With the most options and accessories in the industry, you can create the best hand drying solution for any restroom environment.
*Dry time and energy use testing performed by SGS International on standard XLERATOR Hand Dryer with 0.8” nozzle to 0.25g or less of residual moisture, pursuant to the UL Environment Global Product Category Rules (PCR) for Hand Dryers.