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Sustainability

Green Team And Green Initiatives

September 19, 2010
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The general meaning of the term green has emerged from the mainstream with foundations in ecology, environmentalism and conservation.

The definition of green cleaning is the use of products and procedures that are more healthful and have less environmental impact than other products while maintaining the same cleaning standards.

During this time of economic concern, the green movement is more important than ever before as businesses, nonprofits and governments are facing financial challenges.

Many owners and employees of companies are discussing ideas about going green.

One cohesive measure to get past the talk and closer to implementation is forming a "green team".

Key people can be brought together to create initial ideas about the basics, such as recycling, garbage needs and energy-saving aspects of the workplace.

As the green team grows in experience, energy use and business practices should be addressed.

A green team should consist of various management, employees, and if necessary, continual subcontractors.

For large facilities, employees should have representation from many different departments.

If the environmental services or housekeeping is subcontracted, representatives should be contacted to participate or at least be given specific directives.

Game Plan

A green team should not be limited to one location.

If a company has satellites throughout the United States and has videoconferencing technology or audio conference capabilities, it would be beneficial to utilize these assets to create a network of unified vision.

In the beginning phase of a green team, the key people should research the Internet for ideas and information.

It is imperative to utilize the wealth of the information about green in the media.

It is very important that upper level management be aboard even in the small steps.

As the team meets monthly or quarterly, it is important to educate employees about ways of contributing to reduce environmental stress and conserve company resources.

In the most advanced state, the green team dialogue should contain carbon footprint discussions and a sustainability plan.

The carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases that are released into the air when original goods are manufactured, shipped, stored and eventually used by the consumer.

Footprint For The Future

As initial ideas are accepted, introduce a sustainability plan that explains strategies of conservation for the resources at your institution.

In the present economy, companies can merge green initiatives with budget reduction implementation.

The ultimate goal is to create a sustainability plan that complements the facility and lays a foundation for the company.

A green team can be utilized to retrieve a large amount of information to analyze ways of saving all types of energy, such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulb use and inventories of equipment.

Instead of only environmental services, housekeeping and maintenance, all workplace performance aspects need to be evaluated.

Information technology (IT) can analyze various ways to conserve server output, computer sleep modes and the use of printers, as examples.

A Multi-step Process

As an assistant administrator and environmental services director at my workplace, I approached my departmental budgeting in a two-step process.

Step one was to layout a line item budget reduction plan on all supplies and equipment inventory.

At the side of the spreadsheet, I included a green highlight for a green initiative.

The plan came to fruition when most of the green initiatives easily fit with the cost reduction approach.

The overwhelming factor with the use of analyzing chemicals is dilution ratio.

All commercial-style products should be diluted and be the workhorse chemical used at the facility.

When diluted products are present, it is significant to introduce a Green Seal®-certified cleaning product.

In breaking down a product inventory list, changing the way the housekeepers clean is a huge factor when expanding the numbers over an entire year of cleaning.

It is advantageous to hold meetings with the housekeepers to make sure they are performing the correct techniques of frequency and implementation without forgetting quality performance.


Marty Beil is an assistant administrator at the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) in Mankato, Minnesota. He founded the "green team" at SSND and is working as chairman of the SSND Green Team Committee. He can be reached at mbeil@ssndmankato.org.

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