Clean laundry, good karma

Jamil Shaikh's Moffett Laundrymat is first in county to be certified green

Laundromats, on the surface, may appear to be uninteresting places. But not to Jamil Shaikh.

Shaikh has owned the Moffett Laundrymat, tucked in the shopping center on Moffett Boulevard and Cypress Point Drive, for about 20 years. To this day his enthusiasm about the business -- recently certified as a green business by Santa Clara County -- is palpable, and he can talk at length about it and the customers that come through.

Shaikh is a human relations commissioner for the city, and owning a laundry facility is his way to keep in touch with the community. "I do my outreach right here," he says.

Even though he has a day job as an engineering consultant, he is often seen at Moffett Laundrymat, chatting with customers like the Army colonel who likes to clean the place while waiting for his clothes, or the engineer who sketched out plans for a medical device that Shaikh later read about in a magazine.

Lately, Moffett Laundrymat has earned Shaikh the respect of local environmentalists. On Nov. 17 he will receive an award from the mayor for his efforts.

Shaikh was not even aware of the county's green business certification when he set out to extract every bit of energy efficiency from his operation that he could afford. In fact, he never really thought of himself as an environmentalist. Growing up in Pakistan, where he couldn't afford to waste the water he carried home, conservation was a way of life.

"I was just brought up that way," he says.

Many of his conservation efforts are commonplace. By installing more efficient fluorescent lights and fixtures, he's cut electricity use for lighting by a third. He put timers on the lights and the water heaters so that the place "goes to sleep" at night and no energy is wasted. "Every little bit adds up," he said.

Despite major price hikes in energy over the last five years, Moffett Laundrymat's energy costs have risen only slightly because of his improvements.

Shaikh doesn't use window cleaner to wash his windows. Instead, he uses old newspapers soaked in water, then recycles the newspaper. He said the ammonia from the news print provides all the cleaning power needed, and pointed to the clean windows as proof. He's even talked the neighboring businesses into doing it.

The outreach doesn't end there. Shaikh has been going to other laundromats, one as far away as Redwood City, to teach the owners there how to save money, energy and water. He says he doesn't subscribe to the "every man for himself" business philosophy. Whatever you do, he says, "it comes right back to you."

The philosophy seems to be working, because Shaikh has never had a major crime occur at his laundromat, even after it was left unattended late at night with the doors open. The two liquor store owners next door, appreciative of the help he's given them over the years, will call him if they see anything going on.

Customers appreciate Moffett Laundrymat too, and not just for its energy efficiency. Scott Pankonen, washing his clothes there on Monday, said he's found no other machines that remove detergent as thoroughly as Shaikh's do. That's because they're high-tech machines that spin over 1,000 times per minute.

That's important to Pankonen, because he has an allergic reaction to the traces of detergent left by other machines. "I used to break out with hives," he said.


Like this comment
Posted by Gary
a resident of another community
on Nov 15, 2008 at 7:00 pm

Thank you for sharing the green project. I understood that many little savings became a large saving. He is a super star, isn't he?

Like this comment
Posted by Mike Laursen
a resident of Monta Loma
on Nov 15, 2008 at 8:53 pm

Is this the same laundromat that was called Baywash? Back when I was an apartment dweller, used to love doing my laundry there.

Like this comment
Posted by A.G.
a resident of North Whisman
on Nov 15, 2008 at 10:51 pm

Kudos to Jamil! Not only is he environmentally-friendly, he is just plain friendly... Period... He's one of the nicest guys I've ever met.

Like this comment
Posted by Michelle
a resident of North Whisman
on Nov 16, 2008 at 2:57 pm

I do my laundry at the Moffett Coin Laundrymat, the one with the colorful thank you bubble signs on its walls. Thank you for a very clean laundrymat and thank you for going green.

Like this comment
Posted by Audrey
a resident of another community
on Nov 16, 2008 at 10:34 pm

Jamil stands for everything that is good in our community. Way to go! Hopefully, his enthusiasm will catch on with other members of the business community. Go Green!

Like this comment
Posted by Daniel DeBolt
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Nov 17, 2008 at 10:14 am

Daniel DeBolt is a registered user.

Here is a list of improvements Jamil has made, from an email he sent:

- Replaced top load washers with the energy-star rated front load washers.
- Monitor each water bill for sudden rises in water use.
- Regularly check for and repair all leaks.
- Using only dry methods to clean outdoor hard surfaces, rather than spraying or hosing with water.
- Indoors, using dry floor cleaning methods, followed by damp mopping,
- Installed self-closing faucet.
- Changed window cleaning schedule from 'periodic' to 'as required'.


- Replaced older T-12 fluorescent lighting with energy-efficient T-8 fixtures with electronic ballast.
- Replaced all incandescent bulbs with efficient compact fluorescent.
- Reduced number of light fixtures.
-- Replaced all decorative lighting with the energy efficient LED bulbs.
- Installed timer to turn off one bank of lights.
- Installed daylight dimmer to automatically turn off lights.
- Routinely checking and adjusting lighting control devices, timers and photocells.
- Posted light switch reminders to turn off lights when not in use.
- Using standby mode on equipment.
- Installed time switch to automatically turn off the office equipment.
- Insulated all hot water pipes and storage tank.
- Regularly cleaning dryers lint-screens so they run most efficiently and use less gas.

Like this comment
Posted by Elizabeth Sarmiento
a resident of North Whisman
on Nov 18, 2008 at 9:09 am

Thank you for sharing with the community of Mountain View an opportunity to see how Mr. Jamil Shaikh is greening his business. It’s a great testimony to know that Mr. Shaikh is not only helping conserve water but that he is also saving money. I would like to mention that by participating in the Valley Water’s Commercial Clothes Washer Rebate Program, Mr. Shaikh received a $400.00 rebate for each inefficient clothes washer he replaced through the program. Any business or resident interested in helping the City of Mountain View become greener by conserving water should contact Valley Water’s water conservation hotline at (408) 265-2607 ext 2554 or visit Thank you so much Jamil.

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