By Stephen Ashkin
Green Article Use Policy
As recently as five years ago, implementing a comprehensive green cleaning program was challenging. Green products often did not perform well, and those that did were typically much more expensive. Also, there was little agreement as to what constituted a comprehensive green cleaning program.
Today, this has all changed. It's easier to find green cleaning products, as most manufacturers and product distributors offer not one, but several lines of green cleaning products. Plus, the added competition among both product manufacturers and distributors has resulted in lower costs more in line with the traditional products being replaced. What's more, many of these products and services are now independently certified, meaning facility managers can buy green cleaning products with confidence they'll perform.
But while today's products perform comparably and are price-competitive with traditional counterparts, facility managers have a new and very different challenge. Today's challenge is identifying the best products, services and programs to meet the needs when the number of choices seems overwhelming.
What follows are 10 questions facility managers should ask prospective suppliers. While there are no right or wrong answers, these questions will provide insights to make a more informed decision.
Every salesperson selling green cleaning products or programs will say how great their products or services are. But it may be advantageous to work with a vendor who is actually knowledgeable about the subject. So ask the vendor representatives if their companies have any accreditations, certifications or other training on green buildings or green cleaning, such as from ISSA Green Cleaning University or ISSA's Cleaning Industry Management Standard — Green Building (CIMS-GB) or ISSA Certification Expert (ICE) certifications. If you're expecting them to be knowledgeable, make sure they can prove it.
If hiring a new employee, it would be expected to ask for references. The same strategy should be used when considering a new green cleaning vendor. Changing a cleaning program can be time-consuming and expensive, and if done poorly can lead to occupant complaints. So it is best to get it right the first time.
Ask for references and permission to contact organizations the service provider has worked with in the past. Ask both the vendor and reference what benefits were achieved and see if they agree with each other. And make sure to ask if the benefits were documented. This is especially important when the salesperson speaks about large cost savings, reductions in absenteeism or increases in occupant performance.
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