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Making green with green

September 19, 2010
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As a former building service contractor (BSC), I was always resistant to change. As soon as I would have everything running smoothly and starting to make progress, the playing field would be altered.

When propane buffers first came out, I remember saying: “They won’t last. They are too loud and leave an odor.”

I remember refusing to try backpacks for fear of workers compensation claims and a lack of brush agitation.

But I am the first to admit my resistance was wrong.

Today, propane machines are a productivity boon and the engines are highly efficient and user-friendly, as are backpacks.

And, I feel some contractors may be overlooking the green movement the same way I overlooked propane buffers and backpacks.

The green movement is here to stay due to its sustainability and the improvement it has on quality-of-life issues.

It is time to recognize the cleaning industry’s impact on the type of environment we work and play in. VOC’s and sustainability are key elements.

Many proactive BSCs and facility managers have utilized these new green cleaning products to their advantage and have increased their bottom-line profitability in the process.

So, now is the time to do the same with the green movement.

Think about how the green movement will put more “green” in your wallet or help you stay within your budget.

Here are six ideas to consider:

  1. By switching to green products and multi-purpose products you can reduce your product usage by standardization. Using one product at different dilution ratios for different tasks ultimately saves you money. For example, some Green Seal 37 Certified products can be used at 1 ounce per gallon for glass cleaning, 2 ounces for general purpose cleaning, 3 ounces for carpet cleaning, and 4 ounces for heavy-duty cleaning.
  2. Using concentrated products with dispensing systems instead of ready-to-use products will reduce your chemical budget and reduce water usage. The green movement emphasizes the philosophy that less is better.
  3. If you are supplying paper at your job site, or the customer is providing the paper, think about switching to controlled roll dispensing systems and to natural white paper products. This can reduce your paper usage by as much as 25 percent, while reducing paper cost as well. You are not only saving some trees, but money too.
  4. The green movement forces you to be more efficient and more aware of the environment around you. More attention will be given to HVAC systems and filters, causing them to be serviced more frequently. More energy efficient restroom fixtures will be installed, such as waterless urinals and foaming hand soap dispensers. These fixtures will need to be cleaned and maintained properly and on a regular schedule. Each of these changes, while they will provide extra work for a BSC or in-house staff, will greatly improve the building’s environment. Foaming hand soaps are very cost effective, with some providing 30,000 hand washings per case. This greatly reduces the amount of hand soap used, thereby reducing restroom supply costs dramatically.
  5. The green movement is a proponent of the use of more efficient vacuum cleaners. The old outer bag vacuum cleaners just blew dust around, causing the dust to go airborne and affecting those allergic to dust. The new vacuums provide a much cleaner environment where dust is trapped in the filters and not blown into the air. This reduces the frequency of dusting which, in turn, saves labor — and labor is money.
  6. Switching to microfiber towels instead of paper towels will reduce paper usage, and use less chemicals and water to clean. Thus, you reduce chemical usage and water which saves you more money in the long run. Some microfibers can withstand up to 1,000 washings before being replaced.

Marketing tool
Marketing green as a selling tool is a wise and proactive stance for a BSC or facility manager to adopt. Complying with LEED requirements and using Green Seal Certified products will provide the customer or occupants with the following benefits:

  • By using environmentally preferable and reduced-risk products, you can help reduce absenteeism, leading to higher worker productivity. These products are often colorless, odorless and non-allergenic.
  • If a customer is seeking LEED certification, cleaning, grounds keeping, and recycling services provided by the BSC is an economical way of earning LEED certification points. Cleaning and related items can provide up to 30 percent of the points required for LEED certification.
  • A total green cleaning program includes procedures, products, pest management, work loading, recycling and much more. By providing the complete package, a BSC or facility manager can set themselves apart from the competition.

Now is the time to embrace the green cleaning movement and take the steps to be an industry leader.

Market yourself as an industry innovator and save your customer money while making more money for yourself in the process.

The industry is changing fast and the window of opportunity is closing. The large companies are positioning themselves for the future.

Remember, you can make more green with green.


Frank Trevisani is Manager of Building Service Contractors for Spartan Chemical Company Inc. He has been involved with the JanSan industry for more than 27 years as a recognized industry consultant and is a frequent speaker.
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