Green cleaning programs require a lot of time and attention to make sure they're done right. Making your green cleaning program part of your overall sustainability plan can offer greater efficiency than having it stand alone. With so many different pieces involved, the chances are good that building occupants, an outside contractor, or both will add layers of complexity when it comes to making sure that everything is cleaned in an environmentally responsible way, yet still done to the satisfaction of the facility manager.
With all of these factors in play, it can be tempting to put your green cleaning program in its own little box and not think of it as part of your overall sustainability goals. However, incorporating it into your overall plan offers up opportunities that would otherwise be missed, says Steve Ashkin, CEO, Sustainability Dashboard Tools.
"Sometimes we forget that the janitors can do things other than cleaning that can help the owners and managers meet their broader sustainability objectives," he says.
Regardless of whether you hire a contractor or clean in-house, having a comprehensive, detailed cleaning plan that is rooted in your overall sustainability goals goes a long way toward helping you meet them.
The first responsibility of the cleaning crew is, obviously, to clean the facility. But, while they're doing do, they can also help keep an eye on things such as energy and water conservation efforts, says Ashkin.
"The janitors are literally in every single part of the building every single day," he says. "Who better to go in and say, 'office number 312 on the third floor has a space heater going'?"
But Ashkin recommends going beyond even having janitors alert the facility staff every time they find something running. His advice is to label office equipment and have the cleaning crew take the appropriate action.
"I don't want a janitor to decide whether that computer should be on or off," he says. "But, if you put a dot on it, and we color-code the dots, we can tell the janitor, perhaps, red means 'you don't touch it;' and green means 'if you see it on, you turn it off;' and yellow means 'if you see it on, call the facility manager and let him know that it's on.'"
Being able to sell your green cleaning program as part of overall sustainability helps get buy-in as well, says Natalie Stanley, assistant vice president of asset management and director of sustainability, MB Real Estate.
"Unfortunately, green cleaning isn't the sexiest topic, so you don't always get a captive audience," she says. "Once you do, you're able to educate anybody from customers to tenants to potential clients on why it's important."
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