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UGL Unicco: Pioneers of green cleaning

September 19, 2010
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UGL Unicco, part of United Group Limited (UGL), is a national building service contractor (BSC) with a substantial government contract client base.

Customer demand for the use of green cleaning products increased as a result of an executive order signed in 1998 requiring the use of “environmentally preferable” products and services in government facilities.

In order to meet the growing demand of its large government customer base, UGL Unicco executives determined they needed to position the company at the forefront of the green cleaning movement.

“When the executive order took effect, we immediately began receiving inquiries from our customers about green cleaning products,” says Greg Zifcak, commodity/subcontractor purchasing program manager of UGL Unicco. “We subsequently established our green program to enhance our customer partnerships and develop our resources in this area.”

UGL Unicco’s green cleaning program evolved in the following years.

To build the program, UGL Unicco assembled a panel of green experts, including Stephen Ashkin and representatives from JohnsonDiversey, a manufacturer of green cleaning chemicals.

In 2004, UGL Unicco introduced UGL Unicco GreenClean® — a comprehensive green cleaning program that goes beyond “certified” green products and chemicals to incorporate a holistic approach that takes into consideration equipment, procedures, training, occupant issues, energy, recycling and more.

Spreading the green word
UGL Unicco worked extensively to green its operations and communicate the value of going green to building patrons.
Using templates and other communication resource materials from its supplier’s green cleaning manual, UGL Unicco promoted its green cleaning program to existing and potential customers.

Using a “train the trainer” format, UGL Unicco’s operations employees were trained in the new UGL Unicco GreenClean program at all of its customer locations.

“By teaming up with (forward-thinking) suppliers, we were able to utilize expert resources on green cleaning to assist with client presentations and employee training,” said Zifcak. “With the help of our strategic partners, we were able to launch our program much more quickly and effectively.”

In August 2007, UGL Unicco became the first BSC to organize a trade show event in Washington D.C. designed to facilitate direct information sharing between its vendors and employees.

Additionally, the company launched, an extensive resource that provides existing and potential customers with information on ways to go green beyond just switching out chemicals and the benefits of implementing green cleaning programs.

In addition to its website, representatives of UGL Unicco regularly contribute articles to leading industry publications.

Seeing green
By greening its cleaning operation, UGL Unicco has been able to assist many of its customers in earning cleaning-related points required for LEED certification.

The company was instrumental in assisting one of its customers earn the first-ever LEED-EB certification in November 2003.

Since then, UGL Unicco GreenClean has been incorporated into numerous registered LEED-EB and LEED-CI projects throughout the U.S.

While UGL Unicco GreenClean has helped enhance UGL Unicco customers’ facilities, the program has also benefited UGL Unicco’s operations with 75 percent of UGL Unicco’s new commercial business serviced under the UGL Unicco GreenClean program.

The company has received numerous accolades for its initiatives, including the Frost & Sullivan Customer Service Innovations Award.

“By making sustainability and green cleaning a core component of our operations, we have achieved great results,” added Zifcak. “It’s something that not only benefits UGL Unicco, but also our customers, the occupants of their buildings and the environment.”

Tom Boscher is sector manager for Retail and Building Service Contractors at JohnsonDiversey. For more information on developing a green cleaning program, please visit

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