Green Laundry Lounge

The next-level laundromat concept Green Laundry Lounge is set to open its doors to the public at the end of January, but owner Jay Desai opened the doors early to the Upstate Business Journal to offer a glimpse at what he admits is a “kind of weird concept.”

“This type of upscale laundromat is something we don’t have anywhere else in all the Carolinas,” he said, adding that he’s not even sure such a concept exists anywhere else in the country.

Owner Jay Desai Set within The Palms at Brushy Creek, a strip mall at 3120 Brushy Creek Road just in front of the Brushy Creek Townes townhouse complex, the new laundromat/cafe concept aims to be many things at once. Up front is a cafe, serving up coffee from Due South Coffee Roasters, local beer and canned wine, and unique Indian cafe food from David Porras, head chef of the James Beard-nominated restaurant Oak Hill Cafe. A lounge area offers iPads and comfortable couches and chairs made from recycled material.

Meanwhile, along a wall adorned with an Indian- and Greenville-themed mural from local artist Douglas Piper, eco-smart Electrolux washing machines hum (in total 22 washers and 22 dryers, payable by card or coin, at a rate of $3 to $14), while on the other side of the building, machines that utilize a modern “wet-cleaning” method of dry-cleaning articles of clothing without using environmentally harmful chemicals.

Everything is geared toward sustainability and environmental care, Desai said. The detergents are all eco-friendly. Dryer sheets, which pack a powerful combination of harmful chemicals to both the environment and to personal health, have been replaced with hand-woven woolen balls that do a better job of removing wrinkles without the damage. To-go coffee cups are made from recycled materials, as is all the furniture in the lounge. The decorative wall in the center of the cafe is made of reclaimed wood from old barns.

“I’m a pretty eco-focused kind of guy,” he said. “We are blessed with nature here in this Greenville-Greer area, and I would just like to do something if I can to support that.”

He’s aware most people likely don’t equate sustainability with laundry but says that challenge drove him to work harder to bring his vision to life, to convince people in the area what he’d imagined.

“Reinventing what a laundromat can be was kind of a challenge, kind of weird as well, but at the same time it’s fun and now when people walk in and see what this is, everyone is happy,” Desai said.

Target Tests First Net Zero Energy Store

Target Corporation announced in March 2022, its most sustainable store to date, as the site will generate more renewable energy than it needs annually to operate and will test multiple innovations to reduce the building’s emissions. The Vista, California, store’s retrofit, and new features will inform Target’s investments in new stores and remodel programs that support its long-term growth and help guide the retailer’s efforts to achieve its sustainability goals.

The store will generate renewable energy through 3,420 solar panels across its roof and newly installed carport canopies. The site is expected to produce up to a 10 percent energy surplus each year that it can transmit back to the local power grid, and Target has applied for net zero energy certification from the International Living Future Institute. The building also features elements to further reduce emissions, such as powering its HVAC heating through rooftop solar panels, instead of natural gas. Additionally, the store switched to carbon dioxide refrigeration, a natural refrigerant, that Target will scale chain-wide by 2040 to reduce its direct operations’ emissions by 20 percent.

“We’ve been working for years at Target to shift toward sourcing more renewable energy and further reducing our carbon footprint, and our Vista store’s retrofit is the next step in our sustainability journey and a glimpse of the future we’re working toward,” said John Conlin, senior vice president of properties, Target. “Our new stores and remodel programs are designed to help achieve our sustainability goals as we test, learn and scale our innovations over time across our operations.”

Target is building on the many ways it innovates through its stores and facilities to support the company’s sustainability strategy Target Forward. The retailer has committed to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions enterprise-wide by 2040, and since 2017 Target has already reduced its direct operations’ emissions by nearly 27 percent. One of the ways it intends to reach its net zero goal is through sourcing 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources for its operations by 2030.

“Target continues to be a top corporate solar user, and we’re excited to see Target double down on its clean energy commitments with new solar carports and energy efficient buildings through this innovative and sustainable retrofit,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “We commend the Target team for their leadership and commitment to sustainable operations as the retailer continues to raise the bar for how companies can invest in their business and create a more sustainable future.”

Balancing Environmental and Community Needs

Experts warn that nearly 4.3 million U.S. homes are at risk of a 100-year flood event, 2 million of an elevated wildfire risk and that all households will experience higher temperatures. Moreover, homes, according to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, account for about 20 percent of the greenhouse gases produced in the nation. Thus, the housing industry — including the National Association of Realtors and National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) — is moving aggressively to get Americans over the next three decades interested in new and retrofitted homes that could better withstand adverse conditions and achieve net-zero carbon production.

“Many of our members are responding to buyers’ demands for homes that are more energy efficient and resilient by incorporating more sustainable features into their homes,” said Susan Asmus, NAHB’s senior vice president of regulatory affairs. “By designing projects to withstand natural hazards, be healthier for occupants and more durable over the long term and selecting heating and cooling systems and appliances that use water and energy more efficiently, they not only help balance environmental and community needs, but are able to distinguish their businesses, homes and projects within the marketplace.”

Ron Jones, president of Green Builder Media believes the construction and real estate industry could do a better job of protecting trees, which in turn would protect the habitat for wildlife, when they are constructing houses.

“I think we do a really poor job as an industry of embracing the natural environment around us and maximizing the appreciation that people can have by being appropriate about what we build and where we put it,” Jones said. “We simply miss the point. If we look at tract development and cookie-cutter subdivisions and just the whole concept that you just sort of wipe everything clean and make an empty canvas and then stick stuff on it, to me, is sort of a shame.”

The company, Jones said, has given trees the best chance to survive and thrive during the construction process. Trees, he said, are viewed as a natural part of the project, not an impediment to it. “One of the magical elements of this particular project is that Green Builder has been there long enough to have an appreciation for just how present those trees, individually and collectively, are and how they define space in such an important way,” he said.

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