The cleaning industry is swiftly making a change away from chemicals and towards products that will have less of an impact on the environment, end users and building occupants.
The change, when it first began, was slow to catch on.
But now that the effects cleaning chemicals can have on the environment and individuals is better understood, that change is catching on.
It is no longer acceptable for a building service contractor or facility manager to consider making a change to products that have less of an impact on the environment — it is practically a requirement.
And if trends like the one at Boston Logan International Airport continue, it will be a contractual obligation.
What They Did
Logan International Airport recently approved the nation’s first least-harmful cleaning contract.
“The least-harmful cleaning contract is a cleaning model that limits the use of harmful chemicals whenever possible,” explains Gary Tobin, deputy director of airport facilities at the Massachusetts Port Authority. “Boston Logan International Airport was specifically looking for new equipment and technology that does not use harmful chemicals for day to day cleaning operations.”
When the contract goes into effect, DTZ/UGL, the contracting company that oversees the maintenance of the facility, will be required to use methods such as aqueous ozone, water vapor, dry ice and specialized honing discs that will eliminate the need for stripping and waxing procedures and bring floors to a shine naturally.
The contract, which went into effect on October 1, was the result of numerous meetings held over a number of months to go over every aspect of the transition, including verification of the state-of-the-art equipment the contractor would provide and the chemical-free process that would be used.
What It Means
When the contract goes into effect, the hope is that there will be a quantifiable and lasting effect on cleaners, building occupants, staff and anyone going in and out of the airport.
“Once implemented, fewer chemicals will be used in the public spaces, creating a healthier environment. Reports, including an audit and an inspection, are having a positive impact on the front-line employees as well,” says Tobin.
“The condition of the terminals is assessed in a randomly scheduled inspection each month and assigned a score,” Tobin says in regards to how the inspections would work and how cleaners would therefore be held accountable.
In order to determine whether or not the contract is actually making having an impact, Boston Logan will monitor all performance data.
Elliott Affiliates, the consulting firm working with the airport, will conduct an inspection and an audit every month.
“We will meet monthly with Elliott Affiliates and DTZ/UGL to review monthly reports and look at where they suggest improvements should be made,” Tobin continues.
According to Tobin, continuous improvements will be sought through new technologies and cleaning methods.
Over the last five years, Boston Logan has been able to achieve $1.3 million in saving per year, as well as having a cleaner facility, simply by using a performance-based contract.
Rewarding Good Performance
“Front-line employees will receive a bonus if that score is above the benchmark established by Massport. Contractors were required to explain in the RFP where that bonus money would go,” Tobin says.
It was important to Massport that the majority of the bonus money would go to the front-line employees because they are the ones that will have the greatest and most lasting impact on the facility.
Without the hard work of cleaners, the contract would simply be a piece of paper.
At the same time, if an area is found to be underperforming, it is not the cleaners who will receive any deductions.
“If one term was below benchmark, management would get the deduction, not the front-line employee. A cleaner facility means happier staffs and passenger. The potential to make a bonus every month means happy front-line employees,” explains Tobin.
The model being rolled out by Boston Logan, if found to be successful, could likely be replicated in any other facility in which cleanliness is of the utmost importance.
The sharing of their knowledge and what they have learned throughout the process of implementing the least-harmful contract would also be important, something that Tobin emphasizes.
“Boston Logan will always be available to share our experiences. We highly recommend looking into a full performance-based model. The reduction in cost is tremendous,” he says.
But its not just about the money.
“The outcome has improved the airport’s cleanliness. It’s a win-win-win for the airport, the contract and the consultant.”