Giving Pest Management A 'Green' Light
Though pests may be small, the environmental footprint of management can be huge.
These days, “going green” is not just about recycling — it’s about being sustainable and preserving our environment through responsible business decisions and regulatory standards.
Consequently, it’s important to understand how the products and services you use are affecting the environment and what steps you can take to reduce dependency on chemicals that may be harmful to your surroundings.
As the green conversation becomes more commonplace in the property management industry, sanitation and facility maintenance will continue to be scrutinized in terms of their impact on the world around us.
When it comes to making decisions about the sustainability of your sanitation and maintenance practices, pest management is a good place to start.
In fact, a 2013 survey of commercial property managers conducted by Orkin Commercial Services and the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International found that 45 percent of respondents said they were currently pursuing sustainable designations for their commercial property, and more than a third consider sustainability a high priority.
To effectively prevent and manage pests in a responsible, eco-friendly manner, many property managers turn to Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs that emphasize proactive pest management techniques over old-fashioned “spray-and-pray” methods.
IPM provides a way to incorporate green tactics, using methods that can help put your facility on the road to sustainability and allow your facility to comply with U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) requirements for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.
By implementing a series of five ongoing steps, IPM programs can help prevent pest activity by reducing the conditions that attract pests, rather than treating problems once they arise.
Reactive, least toxic chemical treatments are used only as a last resort.
Following The Five Steps
This is a quick breakdown of the five IPM steps, and how they can help minimize the impact your business has on the environment by creating a healthier workplace for both your staff and your customers.
1. Inspection: A pest management professional will conduct a thorough inspection of your facility to assess existing activity and identify pest “hot spots.”
This will serve as the foundation for any future action steps and will help you identify the specific elements of your property that need attention.
Since every business is different, it’s important to use these findings to work with your pest management professional to develop a custom plan that meets the unique needs of your property.
2. Prevention: The second step addresses the areas of concern identified during the inspection and takes action to prevent pests from taking advantage of entry points, harborage areas and food or water sources.
During this step, pest management professionals work with your staff to use non-chemical techniques such as sanitation and facility maintenance to help keep pests at bay.
Here are a few tips you can use to help minimize pest pressure:
- Remove waste daily
- Line and seal all trash cans
- Scrub drains with an organic, environmentally friendly cleaning solution
- Trim back vegetation so it does not touch the building exterior
- Seal any holes or cracks in your building with weather-resistant sealant
- Resolve any other conditions conducive to pest entry and survival.
3. Identification: Proper identification is crucial since it will influence what treatments you select to solve your particular problem, as each pest species responds differently to various treatments.
For example, the IPM Institute of America has identified five commonly encountered pests that may be misidentified and mistreated as bedbugs — an often costly and time-intensive mistake.
A pest management professional will use his or her knowledge to correctly identify the pest at hand and determine the quickest, most effective way to eliminate the issue.
4. Action Thresholds And Control Measures: Your pest management professional can also work with you to determine the point at which pest populations or environmental conditions necessitate action.
Each property and business has a unique threshold, so you should work with your provider to apply the appropriate control measures for your facility.
As mentioned earlier, chemicals and pesticides should only be used if nontoxic options are unreasonable or have been exhausted.
Even then it’s important to work with a pest management professional to choose the least toxic pesticides first.
5. Monitoring: Through a combination of documentation and ongoing monitoring, you and your facility maintenance team should be continually evaluating any new signs of pest activity, pest pressure increases/decreases, conducive conditions and chemical applications.
Be sure to keep record of all corrective actions taken to help eliminate a pest problem, and then monitor the effectiveness of that process.
While IPM programs are designed to employ proactive, nonchemical techniques to help protect the environment, there are a number of advanced devices that can complement your preventive efforts.
Talk with your pest management professional to see if these solutions might work for you:
- Insect baits are available as gels or bait pucks. They contain low doses of chemical compounds that are least toxic, non-volatile and do not become airborne.
- Pheromone traps utilize synthetic versions of insect sex pheromones to attract pests to a sticky board.
- Fly lights, with ultraviolet emitting bulbs are designed to attract and catch flies in high-traffic areas.
Regardless of which techniques are found to be the best fit for your property, remember that your staff members and employees are crucial to the success of your pest management program.
Teach your employees the importance of using environmentally friendly prevention and treatment methods so they can support your efforts to develop a sustainable program.
With this approach in mind, it’s easy to see how important strong partnerships are to keeping pests from finding refuge in your facility.
Consult with your pest management provider to see how these environmentally friendly tips can become a part of your efforts to “go green.”
Dr. Zia Siddiqi is director of quality systems for Orkin. A board certified entomologist with more than 30 years in the industry, Dr. Siddiqi is an acknowledged leader in the field of pest management. For more information, e-mail ZSiddiqi@Orkin.com or visit www.OrkinCommercial.com.