In the letter to the editor below, Klaus Reichardt shows how water conservation plays a vital role in going green.
With demand growing for a diminishing water supply, many areas of the country are forced to think of ways to conserve water use.
Water shortages as a result of drought have long been a problem for Western states.
However, with recent droughts plaguing much of the Southeast, the JanSan industry is forced to think outside of the box to find a solution to this growing problem.
The National Drought Mitigation Center forecasts a continued drought for much of the West as well as the East Coast.
It is vital that the industry heed the warnings and conceive a plan to curb water consumption before the potential for a promising plan evaporates.
Make water conservation a green issue
The JanSan industry must be applauded.
Not only has it embraced green cleaning, but in many ways it has also taken a leadership role in promoting healthier, more sustainable, and environmentally preferable facilities.
We are often told that green cleaning should be viewed as a complete system.
This means that transferring to environmentally preferable cleaning chemicals, for instance, is not enough.
The vacuum cleaners, floor machines, and other equipment, along with the procedures for using products and equipment, all play a role in keeping a facility healthy.
That’s why I think one more component should be added to the green cleaning equation: Water conservation.
In fact, the most significant environmental issue in U.S. restrooms is water use, primarily from toilet and urinal flushing.
The bulk of this water is used in office buildings, where JanSan professionals clean every night.
Starting in 2003, the federal government curtailed the amount of water California was taking from the Colorado River, mainly because the state had been exceeding its allotment for years, to the detriment of Nevada, Arizona, and other neighboring states.
At about the same time, Nevada and Arizona began seeing dramatic population growth, increasing their water needs.
The problem was exacerbated because this part of the country is experiencing unusually dry weather.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, operated by the National Drought Mitigation Center, several areas in the Southwest and Western United States are having “severe” to “exceptional,” which is the highest category, drought conditions.
Major sections of the Southeast as well as other parts of the country have also been experiencing drought.
In addition, researchers at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, believe that water shortages are set to become a very serious global — and economic — issue.
Today, about 1.1 billion people around the world lack access to clean water.
By 2050, one in four will live in countries with chronic or recurring shortages.
The JanSan industry can play a major role in helping the United States conserve water and become more environmentally responsible and sustainable.
Astute cleaning contractors may see this as a way to develop closer ties to customers, while playing a larger, more important role in a facility''s operations.
Some steps that can be taken
- Recognizing water conservation as a part of green cleaning. Water conservation is an environmental issue similar to the use of green cleaning chemicals and equipment.
- Becoming the water conservation eyes and ears of customers, alerting them to potential problems. One of the biggest water wasters is leaky pipes, fixtures and valves. Cleaning professionals are often closer to the water “mechanicals” of a facility than anyone else.
- Installing water-saving toilets. Soon we are going to see some extremely high-efficiency toilets that use about a gallon of water per flush, or less, and allow the user to choose a full or partial flush.
- Investing in waterless urinals. Waterless urinal technology in the U.S. was pioneered in 1991. However, it is just in the past three or four years that the concept has been embraced universally. Most of the “greenest” new facilities constructed have now transferred some, if not all, urinals to waterless systems.
Again, the JanSan industry must be congratulated for all it is doing to protect public health and the environment.
As the green movement grows, we must broaden our vision and see what other steps we can take to help make our facilities more environmentally responsible.
Klaus Reichardt, Managing partner