Environmental and Economic Perspectives in the Analysis of Two Options for Hand Drying At an University Campus
Environmental criteria can be part of global energy policies for the establishment of support and development actions for different technologies. Minimization of greenhouse gas emissions is a benefit to all citizens of the world, as these emissions have global scope. The objective of this study was to determine the best option for hand drying in a university campus building, from economic and environmental viewpoints, for a range of commercially available equipment. For the economic analysis, the capital and operation costs were considered along with the lifetime of the equipment. For the environmental analysis, the Life Cycle Assessment methodology was utilized. Eight options for hand drying were considered on an annual basis: five electric hand dryers and three types of paper towels. Electric hand dryers presented lower annual environmental impacts and lower annual economic costs. It is discussed that environmental impacts can and must be an active factor for the selection of one technology or another. The novelty of this study was the application of the LCA methodology to compare the carbon footprint associated with different commercially available options for hand drying in public restrooms, providing information to the consumer on which alternative is more environmentally-friendly.