Boyd Gaming aims for LEED-certified laundry

22 May 2008

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Boyd Gaming Corp. executive Rick Darnold harbors inside knowledge of the company's dirty laundry.

And these days, Darnold is dishing out details.

As vice president of strategic sourcing for Boyd, Darnold helped oversee the development of the company's new laundry center, a gleaming monument to environmentally friendly linen- and towel-washing.

With the center, Boyd is angling to claim the nation's first laundry certified through the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. The center, off Boulder Highway 12 miles east of the Strip, would also be Boyd's first LEED-certified building, though the company's $4.8 billion Echelon megaresort will follow when it opens in 2010.

Going green was part opportunity, part necessity for Boyd Gaming.

Boyd, like many resort operators, has always outsourced the cleaning of linens and back-of-the-house uniforms to a third-party vendor. As the hotel-casino company swelled to nine local properties, it made more economic sense to bring laundry operations in-house, Darnold said.

Creating a new laundry from scratch allowed Boyd officials to build an environmentally sensitive operation from the ground up.

More importantly, when you're washing 60,000 pounds of fabrics a day -- or 150,000 pounds daily after Echelon opens -- ecoconscious touches can reap serious savings, Darnold said.

The 100,000-square-foot laundry uses 1.7 gallons of water for every pound of laundry, compared with the three gallons of water for every pound that traditional laundries drink up. It consumes 27 percent less electricity and 47 percent less natural gas than a similar conventional laundry uses, which helps it cut annual greenhouse-gas emissions by about 40 percent.

How do they do it?

For starters, the center deploys enzymes that break down bacteria and dirt better than conventional detergents do, so laundry water gets the job done at 120 degrees rather than the 160 degrees conventional laundries use. Economizers recapture the laundry's hot exhaust air and apply it to washing water to nudge it power-free toward operating temperatures. Water recycling spares 20 million gallons of water a year over conventional washing, a number that'll jump to 50 million gallons annually once Echelon opens.

But Boyd didn't stop at installing energy and water misers.

LEED status, which the company should officially garner by year's end, requires a host of other measures as well. To meet the standards, Boyd installed indigenous landscaping in front of south-facing windows to reduce the summertime heat burden on the building's air-conditioning systems. The center also features waterless urinals, skylights to diminish the need for power lighting and an insulated white roof that absorbs fewer sun rays and reduces the building's contribution to the city's urban heat island effect. It offers reserved parking for carpoolers and drivers who own hybrids, and it provides paper coffee cups rather than polystyrene ones for its 110 employees. The office furniture is recycled: Conference tables, desks, chairs, bookcases -- even water fountains and fire extinguishers -- all came from the Industrial Road headquarters Boyd shuttered when it relocated to Rainbow Boulevard in 2007. Serving the environment carries a price: The laundry's $23 million cost was slightly more than $1 million above what a conventional laundry center would cost, Darnold said. Its green methods will save 1 cent to 2 cents a pound; once Echelon comes on line, the company "should make the investment back pretty quickly," Darnold said.

It should take less than five years for Boyd to begin reaping a positive return on investment, he added.

If the laundry wins LEED certification, Boyd officials will apply for a tax break the state allows for green projects. The abatement would equal roughly $15,000 a year for five to eight years, Boyd spokesman David Strow said.

"With sustainability in general, it does cost more to build for energy efficiency," Darnold said. "But because laundries are heavy gas, water and electricity users, we found a better alignment of sustainability and operational needs."


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