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JanSan pros see green future

September 19, 2010
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JanSan people don’t need a weatherman to know which the way the wind blows, at least when it comes to green cleaning products, equipment and processes.

The ever-increasing growth in demand for environmentally preferable cleaning agents and processes, by customers and by regulatory agencies, is the central fact of life for the JanSan industry in the early 21st century.

Naturally, the industry is responding, but how, exactly?

To find out, CM/Cleaning & Maintenance Management® magazine informally canvassed industry leaders (See Green Pros on this page) by e-mail about the impact of the coming green cleaning.

Here’s some of what they had to say.

The company’s role
To the initial question, “How do your see your company’s role in the green cleaning movement?”, Tom Morrison of Kaivac Inc. wrote, “We believe that a holistic and system-based approach to green cleaning, one that integrates chemistry with technology and processes, is required to truly achieve the real objectives.”

Lee Chen of Rochester Midland Co. noted that his firm has worked with the U.S. Green Building Council since the early 1990s to spread the word on the benefits of cleaning for health and had the first Green Seal-certified cleaning products.

Chen added that Rochester Midland’s goal is to maintain its leadership by educating building owners, facility managers and housekeepers on the benefits of green cleaning.

Stephen Hanig of U.S. Products said that his firm has been in the vanguard of low-moisture carpet cleaning for several years, with its portable extractors receiving the Carpet & Rug Institute’s Seal of Approval.

Most experts and green cleaning advocates believe that a low-moisture machine is essential to help minimize the chances of mold, mildew and other contaminants developing after extraction, Hanig explained.

Elliot Younessian of Castle Rock Industries said his company had determined, through customer research, that the green revolution in cleaning would be a driving force in changing the criteria for product selection and specifications.

What’s this going to cost?
Responding to the second question, “What is the cost impact, both short- and long-term, of green cleaning?”, Patrick Stewart of EnvirOx noted that several customers have been able to save by replacing many non-green cleaning products with a few green cleaning products.

“We have customers who report cutting back their chemical inventory from 10 to 15 products to just two or three,” Stewart said, adding that front-line cleaners will be suffering fewer skin irritations and rashes, eye discomfort and respiratory problems due to exposure to harsh chemicals.

Wade Reitmeier of Advance noted that there will be some short-term transition costs, in the long term, green cleaning will reduce costs by using more efficient equipment, products and procedures.

He added that there will be substantial indirect savings through improved environmental health and safety for cleaners and for building occupants

The growth of green cleaning has led to economy-of-scale reductions in the cost of green cleaning products, according to Mark Unger of Unger Enterprises.

“Because the supply and demand for green cleaning products is growing, green solutions are now comparably priced with traditional products,” Unger said. “Also, by replacing products that have a negative impact on indoor environmental quality, the health and productivity of building occupants is improved and absenteeism and health care costs are reduced.”

Marketing green
Green cleaning will never catch on unless JanSan professionals market it well to their customers. So the third question was, “How should end-users go out and sell green cleaning?”

Robert Israel of JohnsonDiversey notes that marketing green cleaning, internally and externally, is vital.

“Develop a communications and marketing program to promote and increase awareness among employees, tenants and visitors, as well as the outside community, customers and investors,” Israel said. “Internally, the marketing of your cleaning program can help increase awareness among building occupants to keep their areas clean, wash their hands, and help prevent the spread of germs within the facility. Externally, customers will feel safer and more confident about visiting your buildings.”

Joe DeZarn of Rubbermaid Commercial Products advises end-users to become the green cleaning expert for their customers.

“Begin with green cleaning’s ability to address some concern the customer is expressing, and use that opening to introduce the other benefits,” DeZarn said.

End-users are responsible for educating their customers about green cleaning, according to Mike Sawchuck of Enviro-Solutions.

“The marketplace is a bit mystified about green cleaning, and if end-users position themselves as the local ‘green cleaning expert’ with greater knowledge than their competitors, then the customer will select them, assuming everything else — price, performance, reputation, etc. — is equal,” Sawchuck said.

Highlighting health is a great selling point, explained Allen Rathey of InstructionLink/JanTrain Inc.

“Health is the best platform, since indoor environments affect people directly,” Rathey said. “And protecting health is compelling — think greater worker productivity and morale, lower health care and insurance costs and less absenteeism.”

William Smith of National Chemical Laboratories Inc. noted that green cleaning will be attractive to building owners who want to promote their buildings as environmentally advanced.

“Green cleaning becomes important when facilities seek third-party recognition (such as LEED-EB) for their proactive efforts on preserving the environment,” Smith said.

Green research
The fourth question for our experts was, “How has green cleaning affected research and development or services you provide?”

Like many of our experts, Reitmeier of Advance said his firm was designing equipment and technologies to green standards “before the industry was calling them green and demanding them.”

“We’ve always been sensitive to cleaning thoroughly in a way that doesn’t harm the environment,” said Morrison of Kaivac. “The green cleaning movement has heightened our sensitivity to issues such as indoor air quality, noise pollution and efficiency. In addition, we have been working with Green Seal on R&D associated with cleaning chemicals.”

Some firms have been green from the get-go, explained Stewart of EnvirOx, whose cleaners are based on hydrogen peroxide.

“We started as a research project to find a healthier way for cleaning professionals to do their job,” Stewart said. “Our product was the first hydrogen peroxide cleaner to be certified by Green Seal. Now there are 16 companies who produce Green Seal-certified hydrogen peroxide cleaners.”

Enviro-Solutions has been making green cleaning products for 10 years, according to Sawchuck.

“We are focused on offering only proven green solutions, on constantly looking to improve product performance and on looking for ways to bring greater value to our distributors and end-use customers,” Sawchuck said.

“R&D is crucial, because not only does the product have to be bio-based or environmentally preferable, it has to perform as well as conventional cleaners and the cost has to be comparable,” noted Chen of Rochester Midland Corp.

The green future
Our final question asked the experts to put it all in perspective: “What does the future hold for green cleaning?”

“Green cleaning will progress and deepen to the point where buildings are viewed as ecosystems, and managed with profound knowledge of systems and how the parts affect the whole,” said Rathey of InstructionLink/ JanTrain.

Whatever green cleaning is now, it will be different, and probably greener, in the future, noted Israel of JohnsonDiversey.

“Once you’ve fully implemented a new cleaning program, the next step is to continue looking for ways to improve,” Israel said. “There are always going to be more opportunities to do more and do better when it comes to creating safer and healthier buildings.”

DeZarn of Rubbermaid Commercial Products said that he expects green cleaning will go from “nice to do” to “must do,” which will “raise the standards for interior environments and help elevate the public perception of cleaning operations and the professionalism of the practitioners.”

Hanig of U.S. Products sees green cleaning as fast becoming the norm and that’s a good thing.

“Our role in keeping people healthy and productive has never been clearer,” Hanig said. “As this momentum grows, so will the respect for our industry.”

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