Student's Effort Secures Energy-Efficient Hand Dryers in Bren Hall

Roland Geyer


UCSB Grant to Fund Hand-Dryer Pilot Project

A pair of energy-efficient electric hand dryers will be installed in Bren Hall as a pilot project, thanks to the efforts of second-year MESM student Laura Hamman (2010).

Hamman received a $4,756 grant from The Green Initiative Fund at UCSB, enough to cover the purchase and installation of two state-of-the-art Dyson Airblade hand dryers in the third-floor lab-wing restrooms at Bren Hall. They are expected to be installed by fall 2010.

Laura Hamman

"This project closely maps TGIF goals of reducing UCSB's impact on the environment, specifically through resource conservation and pollution prevention," Hamman wrote in the application. "The installation of energy-efficient hand dryers will minimize the consumption of paper towels and trash bags that line waste receptacles in Bren Hall. This will in turn eliminate transportation of these materials and reduce the amount of solid waste generated. In addition, this will also improve overall hygiene and safety in the restrooms, and will likely improve air quality, since electric hand dryers do not produce lint."

Dyson Airblades are considered the cutting edge of hand-dryer technology. They are in use at San Francisco Airport, Chicago's O'Hare Airport, Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, and numerous other high-traffic facilities reducing energy use and solid waste is a concern.

Hamman says that the two dryers will serve as a pilot project; she hopes that funding will eventually be secured from another source "so that the dryers can become the norm in all high-traffic restrooms on campus." She says that the lab-wing restrooms in Bren Hall were chosen for the pilot project because they are the most heavily used restrooms in the building. The existing aluminum paper-towel holders could be recycled or moved to another restroom that has less traffic.

Hamman came up with the idea in an industrial-ecology class taught by Bren assistant professor Roland Geyer, and she evaluated the Dyson dryer for her Group Project, in which she and Bren classmates suggested a series of steps by which Corporate Partners Gills Onions could reduce its overall environmental footprint. In a letter of support for the project, Geyer wrote, "Environmental assessments of hand-drying methods consistently show that jet hand dryers have by far the lowest environmental impact relative to all other existing methods, such as paper or cotton towels.

"In fact," he continued, "the assessment results are so obvious and clear-cut that I use the environmental comparison of hand-drying methods as an assignment in my Industrial Ecology class (ESM 282). For the longest time I have hoped that one of my students would take the initiative to get hand dryers installed at Bren Hall, so that we will walk the walk when drying our hands. I am delighted that Laura is doing just that now, and I want to make sure that she succeeds."