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Sustainability

Green Knowledge Is Power

February 24, 2011
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Making the switch to greener, more effective cleaning chemicals is something of interest to nearly all facilities administrators.

This sometimes becomes problematic when there is a lack of credible information available to help guide the transition.

Many facilities decision-makers remain jaded by green products of the past.

These early environmentally preferable options were often very costly and delivered questionable results.

Because of this, scores of individuals were weary to fully embrace green product procurement.

Today, however, manufacturers are taking their years of research and development data and are implementing that expertise into green product formulations that outperform traditional chemicals at comparable costs with a reduced impact on building occupants and the environment.

Some of these manufacturers have even released White Papers explaining the attributes of their products and how their use can benefit the productivity, cost cutting and sustainability goals of your facility.

Industry research shows that 72 percent of cleaning professionals prefer to clean with milder chemicals.

"Green cleaning is coming of age," opines Steve Ashkin, president of The Ashkin Group LLC.

Implementing Green

While generalized background information is insightful, nuts and bolts figures pertaining to green cleaning implementation is critical.

As statistics show, 70 percent of custodial professionals are interested in helping their company or organization go green.

Included in some product literature are steps that can be taken to ensure the success of your green cleaning initiative, including which chemicals and equipment will best suit your daily operations.

Information like this is helpful in deciphering the numerous green claims — both factual and misleading — that abound in the industry.

Green products must work well, use resources efficiently and not put human health or that of the environment at risk during or after use.

If a supposed green product does not meet this basic criteria, its level of greenness should be questioned.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that people spend up to 90 percent of their time indoors.

As such, it is increasingly important that we clean our indoor environments with less toxic alternatives — notably those containing little or no volatile organic compounds (VOC) — that will not harm those occupying the buildings we clean and maintain.

Poor indoor air quality can hamper employee productivity and, according to the EPA, cost businesses "tens of billions of dollars per year."

"By using green cleaners, [facilities] management teams can make a statement that they care first and foremost about their guests and staff, and that they care about being a good steward of the planet''s resources," says Beata Grabowski, director of marketing for Green Works® Commercial Solutions. "By eliminating toxic chemicals from their cleaning routine, [facilities] can keep their guests and staff happy and safe — key contributors to a healthy bottom line."

Seeing The Difference

Going green is not only the proper thing to do from an environmental standpoint; it can be a financial boon, too.

"Green cleaning — or using cleaning products and methods that focus on natural ingredients — is in the best interests of businesses, tenants and cleaning professionals," notes Grabowski. "By using products with naturally derived ingredients, businesses can attract new customers and reap the rewards of having more satisfied tenants and employees, which contributes to a healthy bottom line."

A green cleaning program can help raise the public perception of a building, company or organization.

This can result in improved business, more positive media coverage and even increased amounts of donations.

According to a February 2009 Vatoca Partners survey, seven out of 10 consumers prefer to patronize a business that demonstrates a commitment to the environment.

Because of its very nature, a green cleaning program will help reduce operational costs through improved efficiency and reduced product usage.

With things such as dilution control systems — a staple of a green cleaning agenda — the proper amount of chemical is dispensed each time the unit is used.

Precise measuring can reduce chemical usage rates considerably when compared to the "glug-glug, pour-pour" method still employed at some facilities.

In addition, dilution control systems utilize concentrated chemicals, which reduce water usage and shipping costs.

Overall, a green cleaning program can empower your facility, company or organization to reduce its carbon footprint while making for cleaner, healthier and happier indoor environments.

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