The thirst for commercial green cleaning programs continues to build.
For some, it’s just good business, emanating from the corporate responsibility sphere — people increasingly expect a certain amount of “greenness” in business because businesses have a much larger impact than one person or one home. Quite simply, business, as usual, needs also to be responsible. Sure.
For other decision-makers, it’s about saving the environment, which is valuable by itself, but is that all there is behind this idea of “green?”
What Does Green Mean Anyway?
In 2016, the definition of green has become much more precise. And measurable. Green is no longer limited by a vague notion of an action you can take being good for the environment in ways that are unquantifiable. Today, green can very specifically be defined with just two words:
Efficiency. Health. That’s it.
Efficiency plays a vital role for businesses in countless ways, all of which have a direct impact on the bottom line. While decision-makers are accustomed to thinking about efficiencies relative to the workforce or communications, resource efficiency has largely remained under the radar. Water efficiency, energy efficiency, transportation efficiency, and materials efficiency all have a direct, and measurable, impact on budgets because a reduction in electricity or water is easy to measure if someone is actually doing so. Similarly, installing an automatic soap dispenser, paper towel dispenser, or switching to reusable rags can produce a measurable reduction materials requirements.
Health is of obvious importance. But it wasn’t until recently in the US that businesses began to take note of how operations impact employee health and environmental health. Factors such as Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) have become commonplace because a growing number of people understand that we spend, on average, 90% of our time indoors, and indoor air quality can surprisingly be five times worse than outdoor air quality. Terms such as Sick Building Syndrome and Building Related Illnesses, spawned from an understanding that employee health has a pretty profound relationship with employee absences and employee productivity. Businesses are beginning to understand how paint with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and toilet partitions with urea formaldehyde are off-gassing their contaminants in a way that impacts employee health and environmental health.
Can Green be Clean?
So a commercial green cleaning program isn’t some mysteriously good thing to do. It’s a cleaning program that is resource efficient and healthier for employees and the environment than it’s traditional counterpart without sacrificing effectiveness.
Here are five simple actions you can take that will green your cleaning in measurable ways:
- Install dilution control systems. Without these systems, it is too easy to use too much, which needlessly costs more and can be harmful to surfaces, employees, and the environment. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing!
- Reusables can reduce disposables. Disposable cleaning tools all have reusable counterparts, and consider professional services that can collect and clean the mops, towels, microfiber wipes, and more. Cutting down the costs of disposables can have a dramatic impact on that budget, but you’re also reducing the volume of waste your business produces.
- Automatic retrofits can yield considerable savings. Toilet and urinal flush valves can be retrofitted in minutes and are capable of cutting water usage in half. Automatic soap dispensers and automatic paper towel dispensers and high-speed energy-efficient hand dryers further reduce product cost and waste.
- Matting reduces the need to clean. Trapping dirt and debris in matting placed at the entrances means less sweeping, mopping, and cleaning chemicals, all money-saving measures that also reduce employees’ chemical exposure.
- Use products and services that have attained one or more respected green building certifications. In a previous post, we have detailed the benefits of such certifications. They are third-party tested, using rigorous standards, and take the guesswork out of having to make your own determinations while simultaneously ensuring cleaning effectiveness. Many certifications are trusted by the USGBC’s LEED green building certification program.
In 2016, green must be measurable. Whether it’s resource efficiency, employee health, environmental health, or a combination, green improvements should no longer be mysterious. By paying close attention to the “new” green, it’s the bottom line that increases, not complications.