With energy-consuming equipment, such as water heaters and refrigerators, we have good data on energy consumption and can set clear standards accordingly. In some product categories—clothes washers, for example—Energy Star standards were adopted because those standards provide a high enough threshold to represent just the very top segment of the product market (less than 10%). In other product categories—e.g., refrigerators and dishwashers—we set a higher threshold than ENERGY STAR: for example, exceeding those standards by 10% or 20%. With lighting and lighting control equipment, certain generic products qualify, such as compact fluorescent lamps and occupancy/daylighting controls, while in other categories only a subset of products qualify. In some cases, products that meet the energy efficiency requirements are excluded, because of evidence of poor performance or durability. Microturbines are included here because of the potential for cogeneration (combined heat and power) that they offer.
Alternative wastewater disposal systems reduce groundwater pollution by decomposing organic wastes or removing nutrients more effectively. Hand dryers reduce water and paper towel use, alternative treatments for cooling tower water reduce chemical use, and carpet tile allows modular replacement of worn areas. In screening products for this area, we focus on quantifiable environmental benefits and strong performance records.
Palmer Fixture Company distributes the HD950 BluStorm Handsfree High Speed Dryer in two designs: exterior-mounted with a stainless steel cover, and a recessed stainless steel unit with drip tray. These units consume 1600 watts, dry hands in less than 15 seconds, and operate at noise levels between 71 and 78 dB, according to the manufacturer—significantly lower than some high-performance models. Although these hand dryers contain heaters, the heat and air speed can be adjusted for greater energy efficiency. Note: high-speed hand dryers use high-velocity air to blow water off hands; the heaters typically do not significantly reduce drying time and are used primarily for comfort. BluStorm is manufactured by Hokwang Industries of Taiwan.
Use of electric hand dryers generally carries significantly lower environmental burdens than use of paper towels. Electric hand drying also significantly reduces custodial labor requirements.
GreenSpec lists high-performance electric hand dryers that are energy-efficient, fast, and convenient—maximum 1,600 watts, less than 15 seconds drying time—resulting in significantly lower energy use than conventional electric hand dryers.
One weak point of hand dryers in general, including high-performance hand dryers, is their noise. Although not widely used, the NSF Protocol P335 certification establishes a 15-second drying time and a 90 dBA limit on continuous noise, which GreenSpec has also adopted.
Ratings and Commentary