Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Protecting IAQ, health with equipment innovation

September 19, 2010
Usually, chemical usage and selection are front-and-center in any discussion of green cleaning.

Floor care equipment, carpet care equipment, and other commonly used cleaning equipment are rarely discussed in a green cleaning context.

Price may be a factor since many end users are operating on limited budgets.

However, green cleaning with certified chemicals and a well-trained staff can be negated if the proper green machines are not utilized.

Over the years, equipment manufacturers have enhanced machinery to do more with less.

Some equipment manufacturers have developed machines that use less water in the cleaning process.

Others have completely eliminated the need for chemicals.

We contacted several experts in the field of green equipment to see what trends you should be aware of.

Can you hear it now?
Many end users now prefer the Day Cleaning model, according to the experts.

The benefits to Day Cleaning are many, including employee retention, morale improvement, customer appreciation, and energy savings.

With a shift to daytime cleaning and other considerations, JanSan manufacturers have turned down the noise output of their machines in recent years.

Many consider less equipment noise a green feature since it improves occupant and user productivity and decreases noise pollution in the indoor environment.

“When a person is performing Day Cleaning, which is becoming more common, noise levels are an extremely important consideration,” says Andre Motta, senior product manager for Rubbermaid Commercial Products.

Noise levels are measured in decibels (dB), and the higher the level, the more sound the machine is producing.

Experts urge end users, especially those who do Day Cleaning and who are interested in green cleaning, to be knowledgeable about decibel levels when shopping for new equipment.

Other green features
In addition to a machine’s noise levels, other features that address chemical usage and performance have also been modified in modern cleaning equipment.

In vacuums, for instance, HEPA filtration allows for high-performance soil removal.

“Filtration and sound levels are key considerations for all indoor equipment. Both of these target indoor cleaning, but they also target Day Cleaning opportunities,” says Keith Willey, marketing manager for Clarke. “Selecting the right-size machine is also important for ease of use and productivity.”

Since effective cleaning is an important aspect of greening the indoor environment, make sure to select the best high-performance cleaning equipment to match the user, the environment, and the tasks.

Keeping employees safe and comfortable also adds to increased productivity.

“Equipment has more ergonomic features today, and these features make machines easier for the operator to use,” says Paul Penacoli, vice president of sales for Pacific Floor Care.

For commonly used, regular maintenance equipment, such as vacuums, selecting comfortable equipment can make a difference every day.

“Vacuuming should be as efficient, comfortable, and easy as possible for the cleaning professional. The more labor-intensive, the less chance an effective job is being done,” adds Jacalyn High, marketing manager for ProTeam. “Good ergonomics and proper training on how to use the machines are two key parts of a smart cleaning program.”

Customer confidence
According to the experts, for many JanSan equipment categories, certification and standards are limited and incomplete.

“There is no standard and there are no criteria with regards to cleaning equipment yet. The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) ‘certifies’ vacuum cleaners and carpet extractors; the certification pertains more to the performance than to the environmental aspect,” says Andi Maerz of Cleanfix.

“Third-party certifications are relatively new for many types of equipment,” adds Willey. “The Carpet and Rug Institute has a set of standards for vacuums and extractors and the National Floor Safety Institute measures some floor machines for slipping hazards.”

Today, many end users and equipment manufacturers use CRI’s Green Label standards as a benchmark for green equipment.

According to Motta, CRI tests vacuums for performance features, such as soil removal, dust containment, and carpet fiber protection.

“CRI’s Green Label standards require that a vacuum cleaner must not create more than 100 micrograms of emissions — the more that is captured, the better for indoor health. The new Seal of Approval standards are now tiered to earn a Gold, Silver, or Bronze rating — based on soil removal results,” says High.

In the carpet extractor category, says Penacoli, CRI tests for solution output and vacuum recovery response.

Looking forward
For the future, JanSan industry professionals are looking for standards to guide users toward effective, green cleaning.

“Should there ever be a standard, ideally you would want to measure the overall consumption of electricity, water, and chemicals. It would have to measure those criteria against a standardized cleaning result, which I believe poses the biggest challenge,” says Maerz.

When that standard(s) will be established is not known at this time.

What is certain is that equipment manufacturers will continue to target customers’ safety, productivity, and performance needs.

“What we are going to see more and more of in the future is the emphasis on one-pass cleaning,” says Motta.

Manufacturers and independent, third-party certification bodies are working hard to address green cleaning equipment needs.

The goal of cleaning — especially green cleaning — is the ability to remove unwanted matter and soil from the indoor environment.

In addition to everyday cleaning practices and selecting green equipment, managers must also understand that productivity is a direct result of proper procedures.