Case Study: U.S. Department of Transportation

The Volpe Center's Fast Lane Approach to Going Green

Volpe Center

When Adam Klauber took over as Sustainability Manager for the Volpe Center in Boston he wanted to prove that you could teach an old building new tricks – in this case, six buildings totaling 350,000 square feet on a six-acre federal complex.

The Center was built in 1970 when green was more likely to be a color scheme than an approach to environmental stewardship. But as soon as Executive Order 13514 was issued in October 2009, Klauber began thinking about how he’d comply with the Order, updating everything from the Center’s heating system to its restrooms. The President’s Executive Order called on all federal agencies to improve their environmental performance – to help create a clean energy economy by increasing energy efficiency, reducing waste and creating high performance green buildings.

The Center is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation; the organization’s 1,000 employees work with other federal, state and local agencies to improve the nation’s transportation system by researching, developing and deploying state-of-the-art technologies and policies.

Klauber knew the road to going green would be challenging and he immediately gave the complex a top to bottom review. Before long he had developed a comprehensive, integrated plan that involved a range of initiatives:

  • Installing new windows with greater insulating properties
  • Upgrading heating and air conditioning systems
  • Creating renewable, onsite solar and geothermal power generation
  • Donating used furniture instead of throwing it away
  • Recycling demolition and construction materials
  • Replacing more than 1,000 desktop computers with laptops that use a fraction of the energy – 20-30 watts versus 100 watts

Klauber based his recommendations on information contained in a detailed audit of the Center’s environmental performance. He was struck by what the report revealed about restrooms: they were not only a huge cost center but also a major source of waste. “The Center’s largest single waste stream was discarded restroom paper towels so it seemed like a good place to start if we were going to improve our recycling performance,” said Klauber.

Even before President Obama unveiled his Executive Order the Volpe Center had already begun a campus wide recycling program, but Klauber wanted to do more than just reuse materials; he wanted to make dramatic cuts by eliminating several tons of paper towels that were taking a toll on not only the environment, but the transportation agency’s budget.

The Volpe Center’s annual budget for paper towels is $50,000; that includes purchasing, stocking, hauling dirty towels away, and dumping them in local landfills. Even before the paper towels depart for the dump they often litter restrooms, overflowing from trash receptacles and creating a haven for germs. With all of this in mind, the Volpe Center has installed 68 high-speed, energy-efficient custom cover XLERATOR hand dryers, the only dryers that are MADE IN USA Certified making them Buy American Act compliant, in 38 restrooms and Klauber has seen an immediate impact:

  • Significant cost savings from using and disposing of fewer paper towels
  • Cleaner, more hygienic restrooms
  • Reduced carbon footprint
  • Quicker, better, more efficient hand drying

“We started thinking about all the other benefits like eliminating the nuisance of discarded paper towels and all the labor involved with ordering, restocking and distributing them throughout the center,” said Klauber.

Klauber’s ultimate goal is to completely replace paper with hand dryers in every restroom – and the green benefits will be immense because the Volpe Center had been using three tons of paper towels each year. “The energy that goes into making paper towels – the resource extraction, manufacturing, transportation, and distribution – is far greater than the energy the dryers use, which is minimal.”

While the Volpe Center is taking a “hands on” approach to sustainability, its policy is “hands off” when it comes to hygiene. New plumbing fixtures are not only low-flow, they’re hands free; so are door openers and soap dispensers. The motion-activated hand dryers round out the equation.

“The dryers complement our efforts to create a more hygienic environment by going hands free. It’s great that we’ll be keeping our bathrooms cleaner and that improves how people view the center,” said Klauber.

Public perception is critically important for the Volpe Center, which competes in the free market for public transportation projects. “Anything we can do to win environmental accolades will help with our status as we seek work because we are an entrepreneurial organization that relies on outside funding. There are no appropriations from Congress,” said Klauber.

That is one of the reasons Volpe has a focused effort on achieving LEED certification. Earning this important designation would demonstrate the Center’s commitment not only to achieving the goals and objectives of Executive Order 13514 but also its dedication to the environment.

“Having awards and being recognized for outstanding performance in different areas like LEED would greatly benefit us because there are so few facilities that have achieved LEED for existing building status; it’s a way to demonstrate that an old building can be efficient and environmentally high performing.”

With a payback of less than one year, the XLERATOR® hand dryer represents a major cost savings.

XLERATOR completely dries hands in 10 seconds – three times faster than conventional dryers. It uses 80% less energy and delivers a 95% cost savings versus paper towels, while creating a more hygienic restroom. XLERATOR is an excellent source reduction alternative and helps facilities qualify for multiple LEED credits in the new 2009 Rating Systems, particularly for LEED Existing Buildings (LEED-EB). Under LEED-EB: Operations and Management, XLERATOR can earn credits for energy optimization, waste reduction, green housekeeping, and more.

Excel Dryer is proud that XLERATOR high-speed, energy-efficient hand dryers are part of the green solution for federal agencies nationwide.

Presidential Executive Order 13514 was issued in October 2009. Its impacts are far-reaching. The Executive Order calls on all U.S. federal agencies to improve their environmental performance, and to help create a clean energy economy by increasing energy efficiency, reducing waste and creating high performance green buildings.

Federal agencies are now required to develop, implement and annually update a Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan (SSPP) that prioritizes agency actions based on life-cycle return on investment. Excel Dryer’s flagship product, the high-speed, energy-efficient XLERATOR, supports federal achievement of SSPP goals for its agencies and facilities.


XLERATOR is an exceptional choice for government sustainability efforts in accordance with the goals set by Executive Order 13514. It also complies with the Buy American Act (BAA - 41 U.S.C.)

XLERATOR is the only hand dryer to be MADE in USA CERTIFIED. MADE in USA CERTIFIED/USA-C™ was established to represent manufacturers, producers, pharmaceutical, and service providers of the United States of America. The organization is dedicated to educating and promoting the quality, quantity and variety of United States industry to show why we need “Made in USA” manufactured products and services.

Federal Agencies Using XLERATOR Hand Dryers:

  • Department of Defense
  • U.S. Army
  • U.S. Marine Corps
  • U.S. Navy
  • U.S. Air Force
  • National Guard
  • U.S. Coast Guard
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Transportation
  • Department of the Interior
  • U.S. Embassies