10 Ways to Become a Green Cleaning Contractor

More businesses and facilities are focusing on how they can operate in a greener and more sustainable manner. But now many, large and small, are taking that a step further. They want to ensure that the companies they do business with are also operating in a more environmentally responsible and sustainable manner.
Often this is referred to as sustainable (or green) procurement. Big companies such as Wal-Mart have a program in place, but even some very small businesses have sustainable procurement programs. For instance, one printing company in the Chicago area will only do business with vendors that market recycled paper and inks that are made from renewable resources such as soy.
These sustainable procurement policies are moving beyond products; they are also being applied to services, including janitorial. The belief is that if a facility wants green cleaning, for instance, it is only right that they work with a vendor that believes in green cleaning for their own offices as well.
But taking this a step further, we are finding that being sustainable and green can prove to be a cost savings. These savings are more likely to be uncovered and realized when working with a cleaning contractor that applies green practices.
So, how can a cleaning contractor become a green and sustainable cleaning contractor and be potentially hired by those facilities with a sustainable procurement program in place? The following suggestions are some of the ways.
1. Learn
Currently there are two green-cleaning certification programs provided by nonprofit organizations. The first is the CIMS-GB (Cleaning Industry Management Standard – Green Building) program operated by ISSA, the worldwide cleaning association, and the other is GS-42 from GreenSeal. The emphasis with both is to instruct cleaning workers to use green cleaning products properly, as well as instruct them on green cleaning steps and procedures.
2. Products
Make sure to select only green-certified cleaning products including green-certified hand soap, liners, paper products, high-filtration vacuum cleaners, matting, etc.
3. Workers
Implement fair and equitable employment practices (sustainability involves products, the planet and people).
4. Carpooling
Encourage carpooling of staff to work locations and from location to location. Wherever possible, route facilities to be cleaned by time and area. For example, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., customers in a specific geographic area are serviced.
5. Cars
Select fuel-efficient vehicles such as hybrids and even electric cars.
6. Inventory
Leave cleaning equipment stored in each facility cleaned. This can help reduce the need to truck equipment from one location to another.
7. Water
Take steps to use water more efficiently; a large amount of water is used in cleaning, especially carpet cleaning. For instance, recycling carpet extractors can reduce carpet-cleaning water consumption significantly.
8. Lights
Custodial workers should turn off all office lights and power down equipment at the end of the day, or as instructed.
9. Replace
Newer cleaning equipment and technologies have been developed that use less energy and water, and have less impact on the environment. For instance, cylindrical brush floor machines use as much as 30 percent less water and chemicals than traditional rotary systems.
10. Measure and monitor
Contractors must develop some sort of monitoring system to keep track of their sustainability initiatives. Comparing how many more sustainable products, tools and equipment are currently in use versus a few years ago provides a good barometer as to where things were and where they are today.
Sean Martschinke is product manager for Tornado Industries, a leading manufacturer of professional cleaning tools and equipment. He can be reached thru his company website at www.tornadovac.com.

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