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Hesperian Cleaners is the first dry cleaner who recieved the Environmental Business Award for being green in the Bay Area. We are a Cerified Green Business
Water Smart Business Certificate from the E.B.M.U.D.  
  Cleaner's water-based system doesn't pollute  

Cleaner's water-based system doesn't pollute

                                                                                           UE NAM TON —Staff
SUNG HAN LEE, owner of Hesperian Cleaners, runs the only business in San Lorenzo to earn the green certification status from the county this year.

By Rachel Cohen


SAN LORENZO — Since Sung Han Lee, the owner of Hesperian Cleaners, invested in a new clothes washing system, the only thing he has seen shrink is his water and energy usage.
Like the spots and stains removed during dry-cleaning, Hesperian Cleaners' new system has completely eliminated the toxic chemicals that many professional launderers are known for using. Hesperian Cleaners is the first and only business in San Lorenzo this year to be certified as "green" by the Bay Area Green Business Program.

It joins 300 businesses in the county that are recognized as meeting the standards, and is one of 33 new businesses to make the cut this year. The other local businesses include state Sen. Ellen Corbett's office in San Leandro as well as Knudsen's Ice Creamery and First Baptist Church, both in Castro Valley.

Lee, who has heralded Hesperian Cleaners since 1982, went through a several-month application process with the program inspectors, in addition to nine months of training to learn how to convert to a new "100 percent-dedicated wet-cleaning system."   Hesperian Cleaners' customers notice the difference, too.

Cheryl Ruth of Liver more brings her clothes to the 15848 Hesperian Blvd. business a ouple of times a month. Now the primary solvent needed for removing a basket full of her laundry's smells and stains is water. Before, like most other launderers, Hesperian Cleaners used perchloroethylene, or perc — an effective cleaner, but toxic chemical.

"A lot of the times with cleaned clothes, the clothes have a chemical smell, and now the clothes feel and smell lighter and fresher, Ruth said. "Plus, now we feel better because we are not polluting the environment."
Pamela Evans, the Green Business program coordinator for Alameda County, said the office gets about 25 requests a week for applications to join the program, though only about three to five a week are returned and only one or two are certified. It is a rigorous process, starting with a self-assessment application that can take from a couple of hours to weeks and is followed by site inspections to see that standards are met.

"They get that distinction of being a green business," she said. "They get technical assistance on how to save water and energy for free." The business program is nearly entirely volunteer-run and funded by partners such as the county's Environmental Health Department and East Bay Municipal Utilities District.

Lee said Hesperian Cleaners' system required a complete "conversion" in his mindset on how commercial cleaning should be done. It also meant the purchase of $90,000 worth of new equipment, including installation. The new system, made by the German company Miele, makes the water work by spinning through the clothes at more than twice the speed as in the old machine. The boxy new washer also performs more functions.

All this helps Lee's shop clean an average of 150 to 250 'pieces a day more efficiently. The return on investment has been clear: The old machines used 650 gallons of water a day, while the new one uses an average 550. His monthly electricity bill has dropped by $100, and where power used to peak at 15 kilowatts regularly, now it rarely rises above 3 kilowatts, averaging to a 20 percent energy usage reduction. Once PG&E recorded this, the utility rewarded him with a rebate.

"My conscience tells me it can't get any cleaner than this," Lee said. The certification is also recognized with a window logo, certificate, lasts three years, and businesses are listed at

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