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What has likely become the primary impetus for organizations to operate in a more sustainably focused manner is that doing so can help reduce operating costs.  While many jansan organizations, as well as facility management companies, believe that implementing sustainability programs “is the right thing to do” – and very often use a worthy marketing tool to attract new customers and tenants – when it comes right down to it, it is the economic component of sustainability that has become the critical driving force for organizations.

In other words, and in bottom-line lingo: sustainability saves money.

A perfect example of this is JP Morgan Chase, the nation’s largest bank in term so of assets.  A few years back, the bank started measuring and monitoring energy use and related costs at its headquarters in New York.  Likely, this was accomplished by using a sustainability dashboard system

What they found, as is so often the case, is that energy is frequently being used unnecessarily for heating and cooling the facility, for lighting, and for what one observer called, “less-than-sexy” aspects of building operations.

To rectify the situation, the bank took two significant steps. They began replacing traditional light bulbs with low-energy LED light bulbs. Second, they started installing sensors throughout their headquarters. These sensors monitor and control the use of heating and cooling, lighting, and even such things as identifying whether indoor and outdoor vegetation needs irrigation.

The program has proven so successful in helping to cut costs and reduce consumption that Chase is taking similar initiatives in 85 percent of its 5,300 branches.  As the system expands, the bank expects to save more than $200 million in utility-related costs over the next ten years and reduce energy consumption by approximately 15 percent. This includes a 50 percent reduction in expenses related to facility lighting.

We should also point out that these steps will also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions considerably. “If you take out nine miles of rail cars of coal, that’s how much coal consumption we’re taking out by using these two programs,” said David Owen, chief administrative officer at JPMorgan, noting that it’s the equivalent of eliminating the need for 120,000 tons of coal.

Owen also points out that these steps have helped the bank in another, less tangible but very crucial way.  They have helped the bank attract “younger employees who say they prefer working for companies committed to sustainability.”

Often these companies use what are termed “engagement tools” that display the steps and successes an organization is realizing by operating more sustainably.  The monitors are installed in strategically located areas around a facility

Learning about the steps Chase is taking to reduce consumption and its related costs, many jansan organizations and facility managers may find these steps admirable, but add that Chase has the financial resources to make it happen – resources that may not be available to them.  However, the cost of change is often overestimated.

Many types of low-cost but very effective technologies have been introduced and more are in the pipeline.  These are all designed to help all kinds of organizations operate more sustainably, reduce operating costs, help protect the environment, and, I might add, attract a younger, more involved generation of workers.

While they may not realize millions of dollars in savings, we already know that some jansan distributors have enjoyed cost savings of as much as $20,000 through ISSA’s DEAL program.  Further, many of these distributors now realize they are just scratching the surface when it comes to operating more sustainably, with the potential for more cost savings down the road.

Stephen P. Ashkin is 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 Greening the cleaning industry.  He is considered the “father of Green Cleaning,” on the Board of the Green Sports Alliance, and has been inducted into the International Green Industry Hall of Fame (IGIHOF).


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