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Olivet recognized for increasing efficiency and sustainability

Posted: Jun 06, 2013

2013-06-06GreenLaundryInitiative

Sally Benson (center), regional sales manager for Mac-Gray, presents sustainability award to Olivet green initiative representatives Jana Hacker, David Pickering (center) and Dr. Randal Johnson.

Continuing efforts to increase the sustainability of the campus, Olivet recently implemented a new initiative to improve the efficiency of the campus laundry service provided for students in dormitories and apartments. This initiative resulted in recognition by the Lighten the Load™ program, acknowledging Olivet’s sustainability efforts in the laundry facilities on campus.

In mid-2012, when Olivet’s laundry service contract with Mac-Gray Campus Solutions expired, Olivet reviewed bids from other laundry service providers. The decision to renegotiate the laundry contract with Mac-Gray was partly due to the focus on sustainability.

“Sustainability is important to Olivet’s leadership, and it is important to our students,” said Jana Hacker, director of conference services. “Therefore, we wanted our laundry contract to reflect this.”

“Since the original contract, there had been a lot of new technology and improved methods,” said Sally Benson, regional sales manager for Mac-Gray. During the renegotiation, Sally worked with Jana to improve the efficiency of the laundry rooms with a focus on helping the environment and reducing the University’s carbon footprint.

The renegotiated ten-year contract includes: new high-efficiency, single-load washing machines, which reduce water usage; and purchasing carbon credits to offset about 140 tons of carbon emissions that represent all the estimated emissions throughout the life of the contract.

The new Maytag washers installed in Olivet’s dormitories and apartment complexes are Energy Star® certified and meet Consortium for Energy Efficiency Tier III requirements. “They are known to be about 30 percent more efficient than the Department of Energy’s standards [Energy Star rating],” said Michael Calderaro, vice president of national sales for Mac-Gray.

Mac-Gray’s Lighten the Load™ initiative began in 2008 and now consists of 47 participating colleges, universities and student housing residences, with only three of those — including Olivet — in Illinois. Through this program, more than 88 million pounds of carbon have been offset thanks to its partnership with carbonfund.org, which invests in renewable energy, energy efficiency and reforestation projects.

As students push to improve the energy efficiency of their university, Mac-Gray provides sustainability solutions for the laundry rooms. “We are proud and pleased to be partners with Olivet,” said Michael. “Students are more aware of sustainability. Mac-Gray helps to increase sustainability efforts by creating a vendor-institution-student relationship.”

“It’s exciting to see the range of green initiatives that are being discussed, and incorporated into the ONU campus,” said Dr. Randal Johnson, professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and member of Olivet’s green initiative task force. “This is a good example. Projects like this go a long way to model our biblical mandate to students and the greater community to be good stewards of God’s creation.”