Putting a new spin on things

Fairfield University offers students a website to make doing laundry easier

Image: Laundry roomRemember those college days, when you lugged your delicates to the dorm laundry room only to discover there wasn't a free washer or dryer in sight?

Fairfield University has met that time-consuming scenario head on.

Thanks to a happy marriage of sustainability and purchasing goals, the university has hooked up all the campus laundry rooms with a website, 'LaundryView®.' With a click of a mouse, students are given an animated online view of all the residential facility laundry rooms. Students just select their respective dorm on the site (http://www.laundryview.com), and up pops an up-to-the-minute snapshot of empty washing machines and dryers (doors ajar, colored white) and unavailable ones (signified by shaking machines, colored red). "Laundry is no longer a long frustrating process," said Karen Donoghue, assistant dean of Students and director of Residence Life.

Zachary Gross, a Fairfield junior, calls the site "one of the smartest inventions" he's seen in a while. "I've been really impressed with how well it works, especially since it updates in real time," he said. "It has saved my fellow students and I the hassle of making multiple trips to check for available machines."

For other time-challenged students like Gina Caldwell, the site has put an end to many a fruitless trip. While a freshman, she lived on the fourth floor of Regis Hall and dragged her laundry down the stairs only to find that the washing machines were full. "Then I had to drag it back upstairs again," she recalled. "I used to be jealous of friends I had at other universities who had such a system so I was very glad when Fairfield adopted it."

The site even offers students 'green' laundry tips and 'rush hour' data on the busiest times of day a respective dorm's laundry machines are in use (i.e., Campion Hall - midnight). The site also gives students the exact time an occupied washing or drying cycle will be completed. "I get to see when my laundry is done so I can go do something else," said Nikki Elibero, a freshman who lives in Campion. "It also helps me plan when I'm going to do my laundry so I don't waste time."

Developed and maintained by Mac-Gray Corporation, a Massachusetts-based company, LaundryView provides information about the current state of laundry room equipment wherever one has access to a Web browser or can obtain e-mail messages.

"The Fairfield University Student Association (FUSA) and the Inter-Residential Housing Association (IRHA) both came forward with the idea, since laundry is always a big concern for the students," explained Donoghue. "Mac-Gray was able to accommodate our campus, upgrade our washers and make it happen."

The site also keeps a running tally on how much water has been saved since Fairfield installed new high-efficiency, front-loading washing machines last August. So far, nearly 592,000 gallons have been saved. These washing machines consume 50 percent less water than traditional top-loading washers and help conserve energy by reducing the time clothes need to be in the dryer. At the same time, they don't require as much as laundry detergent, another eco-friendly situation.

"This has had a positive impact on our efforts to reduce the campus carbon footprint," said David Frassinelli, chair of the university's campus sustainability committee and associate vice president of facilities management. Hopefully, students take note of the water meter on the site's home page, he added.

"Perhaps the neatest feature is that it tells students how many gallons of water they've saved with the new resource-efficient washing machines, something that shouldn't go unnoticed," said Gross, a member of LEAF - Leaders for Environmental Action at Fairfield.

Image: Nikki Elibero '14, left, and Hannah Horvath '14, have found LaundryView.com has made life a little easier.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on March 16, 2011

Vol. 43, No. 240

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