RALEIGH, N.C. -- Ask any city engineer responsible for procuring water what the most cost-efficient method is. Most, without blinking an eye, will tell you "conservation."
For years, cities have encouraged the conservation of water through a variety of methods including building codes and regulations, incentive programs, and public education. Builders and developers are required to utilize low-flow shower heads, faucet aerators, and low-flush toilets, and encouraged to conserve water in outdoor landscaping by installing automatic sprinklers and by xeriscaping.
An often overlooked area in which water conservation can be implemented fairly painlessly in larger populations are larger laundry rooms in multi-housing properties.
"It's a verifiable fact. Laundry equipment inside apartment units waste water, compared to common-area laundry rooms," said Bill Bloomfield, Jr., president of the Multi-Housing Laundry Association (MLA). "Residents with in-unit laundry equipment operate washers more often, washing smaller loads, using more water. If more apartment complexes provided common-area laundry rooms, the water and energy conservation would be significant."
A study by an independent research firm found that, on average, an apartment property with in-unit washers will use more than three times as much water for laundry than a comparable property with common-area laundry rooms, based on known standard washing habits. Each apartment with an in-unit washer wastes approximately 8,500 gallons per year on laundry. In a 150-unit building, that's 1.275 million gallons of wasted water every year. Buildings with 250 units waste more than 2 million gallons of water.
With in-apartment laundry facilities, water isn't the only resource being wasted. There is also the attendant gas and electricity as well as massive amounts of extra sewage generated by less efficient in-apartment laundries. Encouraging the use of common-area laundry rooms in apartment complexes is an easy, yet significant way to preserve resources without creating a insurmountable hardship for residents.
"Many owners, developers, builders, and managers are finding that common-area laundry rooms can be an amenity with wide appeal to residents," continued Bloomfield. "When they are clean, conveniently located, and well-maintained, laundry rooms add significantly to resident satisfaction and help increase the overall value of multi-housing communities."
In addition, a new generation of low-water consumption commercial washers, including the "horizontal axis" washers, are gaining acceptance in the marketplace. As this water-wise equipment makes its way into common area laundry rooms, the benefits will be even greater.
The Multi-Housing Laundry Association can help municipalities with developing programs to encourage common area laundry rooms. Member service companies of the MLA are located throughout the United States and Canada. For further information, contact the MLA at 800-380-3652, or write to 4101 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 201, Raleigh, NC 27607.
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