New 10,000 square-foot laundry facility opens at The Penn Stater

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State Laundry Services processes more than 3 million pounds of laundry a year.

To accommodate tons of dirty linen, while saving on energy, labor and transportation costs, a new 10,000 square-foot, $4 million laundry facility opened Jan. 28 on the ground floor of The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel.

Jim Purdum, general manager for Penn State Hospitality Services, said professional estimates put savings from the facility at about $300,000 a year in energy costs alone.

Energy savings stem from a state-of-the-art in-house boiler, natural lighting, calculated water reuse and reduced transportation costs. The centerpiece of energy savings is a massive, new tunnel washer, manufactured by the Louisiana-based Pellerin Milnor Corp.

“If you look at how the tunnel washers have changed in terms of energy consumption in the past few decades, automobiles would get 300 miles per gallon if they mirrored the advancements represented in this piece of equipment,” Purdum said.

The highly-automated laundry sorts, washes, dries, irons and folds clean linens and other goods for various Penn State operations. About every three-and-a-half minutes, an 80-ton press removes water from each 100-pound batch of laundry, forming a “cake” after washing. The press is so efficient that some materials bypass the large gas-fired driers and head directly to the finishing area. Heavier terrycloth and other items are ready for finishing in fewer than 20 minutes per each load of more than 200 pounds.

About 85 percent of the linen Laundry Services handles goes to the University’s two hotels: The Penn Stater and the Nittany Lion Inn. The remaining 15 percent is clean terry cloth and linen for Housing and Food Services and other Penn State customers.

The former Penn State Laundry across from Beaver Stadium on Park Avenue will be converted for use by Penn State’s Office of Physical Plant. Penn State Laundry once operated at all hours of the day, seven days a week because of equipment capacity constraints. Utilizing 3,000 square feet of converted office and storage space and a 7,000 square-foot addition, the new Penn Stater facility will be able to produce the same amount of laundry in a standard 40-hour work week.

The facility’s opening comes during a period following tremendous growth of Penn State’s hotels. The original laundry was designed to serve the laundry needs of Housing and Food Services. After The Penn Stater was expanded to 300 rooms in 2004 and the former Penn State Laundry aged, Penn State's hotels began to look for ways to better manage the laundry needs of the University.

At that time, hotel officials began studying ways to reduce energy costs as part of Penn State’s sustainability initiative. Analysis uncovered the significant savings available by modernizing equipment and taking advantage of technological advancements that would substantially reduce operating costs. After considering several options with OPP energy engineers, it was apparent that the best option was to relocate to The Penn Stater.

The new location makes sense because a sizeable portion of laundry will go directly back into the hotel, cutting down on transportation costs, Jim “Smiley” Burket, director of facilities and laundry operations for Hospitality Services, said: “We're getting a lot of bang for our investment at The Penn Stater.”


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Last Updated April 29, 2013