When jansan organizations first get involved with sustainability, one of the things they run into is a number of acronyms.  I refer to it as the “alphabet soup” of sustainability.

While it definitely can be confusing, fortunately, we only need to know a few to help us get a solid understanding of sustainability, especially as it pertains to the professional cleaning industry.

Once we understand sustainability and its many benefits, we see how we can incorporate many sustainability initiatives into our business operations. This will help make our businesses more efficient and reduce costs.

To help make it a bit easier, listed below are my “Top 9  Sustainability Acronyms” we are most likely to encounter.  Knowing what these refer to and a bit more of what they are all about, should help make our journey into sustainability flow more smoothly:

  1. Refers to greenhouse gasses or any gas released into the atmosphere that emits heat.
  2. Key performance indicators help business owners and managers gauge how effectively they are reaching their sustainability goals based on specific metrics.
  3. The Dow Jones Sustainability Index evaluates thousands of publicly traded companies focusing on their economic, social, and environmental performance. While most jansan organizations are not listed on this or other exchanges, the DJSI questionnaire that must be filled out is a very effective tool to determine a company’s sustainability and financial performance.
  4. A list of substances such as fluorine, carbon, methyl chloroform, some of which may be found in traditional cleaning products, are part of a list of Ozone-Depleting Substances
  5. The Code of Federal Regulations, as the name implies, is an annually published list of Federal rules and regulations, some of which apply to sustainability.
  6. Life Cycle Assessment is better known in the professional cleaning industry as “cradle-to-grave.” LCA identifies and evaluates the environmental impact of a product, service, or activity in all stages of its use or development.
  7. A term the paper industry is undoubtedly aware of, this stands for Forest Stewardship Council. The goal of this organization is to help better manage the world’s forests. The organization creates what they call “principals,” ensuring forests are protected along with protecting the rights of indigenous peoples to own, use and manage their own lands.
  8. Hazardous Air Pollutants, also known as toxic air pollutants, is a list of pollutants published by the EPA that are known or suspected of causing cancer.
  9. Greenhouse gasses warm the earth by slowing the rate which energy escapes into space, according to studies by the EPA. The Global Warming Potential allows organizations to compare the global warming impact of different gasses.

There is also a term, not an acronym, that I believe is very important for jansan professionals to be familiar with, and that is “efficiency.”  Ultimately, this is what sustainability is all about.

We have already witnessed “efficiency” in our own industry.  As some ISSA member distributors adopted sustainability initiatives, they found their business operations become leaner and more efficient.  The result was collectively, they saved more than $400,000 in one year.

As sustainability moves further into our industry, we can expect outcomes like this to be repeated.


Stephen P. Ashkin is the founder of the Green Cleaning Network, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to educating building owners and suppliers about Green Cleaning and president of The Ashkin Group a consulting firm specializing in Green cleaning and sustainability.  He is considered the “father of Green Cleaning,” on the Board of the Green Sports Alliance, as been inducted into the International Green Industry Hall of Fame (IGIHOF), and is helping the professional cleaning turn sustainability into cost savings.  He can be reached at steveashkin@ashkingroup.com



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