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Experiential Learning

Planning and Integration provide the heart of sustainable action at the College of Charleston. Below we describe our recent partnership with Procurement and Supply Services, and here are links to the other Planning and Integration initiatives we have going on right now:

Partnership with Procurement

The Office of Sustainability and the College of Charleston’s Procurement and Supply Services have formed a partnership to identify strategies for improving campus sustainability through purchasing decisions. Our goal is to create a partnership that enhances communication and understanding about actions that can be taken within Business Affairs that will contribute to the overall institutional resilience of the College of Charleston. The first project we have initiated is an informal comparative study of paper towel use and high-speed hand dryers in campus restrooms.

Large institutions like the College of Charleston create significant amounts of waste from paper towel use – this includes used paper towels that simply get thrown away, as well as the environmental impacts associated with water use and pollution during production and product shipment. High-speed hand dryers have increasingly been presented as a strategy to mitigate these impacts; and while independent research suggests the overall environmental impact of high-speed hand dryers is less than paper towels, they still use energy, and people are unfamiliar, and possibly uncomfortable, with their use.

To better understand the unique dynamics of their use at the College of Charleston, the Office of Procurement secured – at no cost – two V-Max World Dryers for testing against existing paper towel dispensers. As a precursor to possible implementation across campus, one high-speed hand dryer has been installed in each of the men’s and women’s restrooms on the first floor of Beatty Center.

Working with campus maintenance, the Office of Sustainability has collected data on paper towel use in each bathroom for 12 days prior to the presence of the hand dryers. After the initial 12-day evaluation period, we then installed the hand dryers, leaving the paper towel dispensers as an option, and collected data on both paper towel and hand dryer use (Watt meters were attached to each hand dryer), after this 12-day period, we will remove the paper towel dispenser, and collect data over a 12-day period in January to see the increase – if any – in hand dryer use. We are also collecting qualitative data of responses people are having to the changes we are implementing in the bathrooms.

While this is not a full-blown study, our hope is to better understand the dynamics of paper towel use versus hand dryer use at the College of Charleston. Once our analysis is complete in February, we will post our findings.