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Implementing a green cleaning program

September 19, 2010
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Before a discussion of green cleaning and associated programs with “going green,” I must first present a little background of my company.

Facility Service Group, then known as Partners Cleaning, became interested in helping to create a healthy indoor environment back in the early 1990s.

In 1994, we were awarded the first BSCAI award for Healthy Cleaning.

Why go green?
Actually, there are two reasons.

We thought it would be a great marketing tool and, more importantly, it seemed like the right thing to do.

There was one basic thread that ran through our thinking — if we can’t make the indoor air better, the least we could do was not make it worse.

It occurred to me then and still resonates with me now, that our industry, the building service contracting industry, should be the leader in creating a healthy indoor environment.

Quite frankly, I think it is our responsibility as an industry to utilize, whenever possible, only products and equipment that are, at the least, not harmful to our employees and our customers.

How can this be done?
The first step is to communicate to your team that green cleaning is not just a cleaning system, but a company philosophy that runs through all aspects of your business.

The single most difficult aspect of installing a “Green Clean System” is getting your field managers and staff to buy into a new system.

Change is always difficult.

In many cases, the chemicals that made the “old stuff” work was the stuff that was, in fact, harmful and actually dangerous.

The challenge was to find products and equipment that were as effective as the products currently in use.

Back in 1993, the chemists were trying to come up with replacement products that were as effective on a commercial scale.

We must have gone through six or seven systems until we selected the one we still use today, although some of the products have changed.

Improvement is ongoing
As with all technology, the research continues and I’m sure product lines will expand as well as improve.

Education is a critical component to the success of any new program.

It is essential to explain why and how the new program is beneficial to both your employees and your client.

We found that utilizing our distributors and manufacturers’ reps was extremely helpful in conducting on-site training sessions.

I was often quite surprised by the frank and animated give-and-take these sessions often generated.

In addition to chemicals, selecting the proper equipment and tools is another key component in the establishment of a Green Clean System.

Today, there is a wide variety of micro-static and HEPA-filtered vacuums available for daily use as well as non-oil treated cloths for dusting floors and furniture.

Your clients
There is absolutely no downside to implementing a Green Clean System.

It is actually quite the contrary.

Imagine the goodwill created by a proactive approach to an issue that has become front-page news.

As a matter of fact, many states have enacted legislation mandating green cleaning in all state-owned buildings and even more school systems are following suit.

Put yourself in the shoes of a prospective client.

Imagine there are three bids that are all about the same price.

One bidder, however, has set itself apart by including the implementation of a Green Clean System.

Who would you select as your vendor?

In closing, in June we converted a recent acquisition in the Albany, NY, area to a Green Clean System with resounding results.

The system was well-received by our service workers, supervisors as well as the customers.

With the help of our main supplier, the system was installed, training was conducted and we were up and running in short order.

Jeffrey Edelstein, CBSE, is the chief operating officer of Facility Service Group. This NY-based company can be reached at (212) 643-0101 or
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