Let me begin by wishing you a happy New Year! Frankly I think it is going to be a terrific year — and like you, I plan to make it so. And together, let’s do something great as our organizations, families and future generations are counting on us.
Whether you are a Republican, Democrat or Independent; with the election of Donald Trump and a solid Republican majority in both houses of Congress – things are going to change. This is true whether we are considering healthcare, job creation and the minimum wage, security and foreign relations, tax policy, crime, immigration and most certainly environmental regulations.
Please know that this newsletter is not intended to make a political statement. Rather I simply believe that sweeping change is going to take place at the federal level, along with significant changes at the state level perhaps in response to what the feds do or don’t do.
For example, the federal government may reduce requirements that could affect the demand for Green Cleaning products and services from the General Services Administration (GSA) and other agencies.
However, with multi-year contracts already in place, we may have to wait and see how the demand for Green Cleaning will actually be affected.
These changes could also affect some federal programs including EPA’s Safer Choice Program and USDA’s BioPreferred Program. Again, we will have to wait to see what happens, but if these programs are important to your organization, encouraging your elected officials to support these voluntary programs is critical.
But in response to anticipated federal changes, one of the key things that may change in 2017 is how the states respond.
While the federal government is the single largest purchaser of goods and services, collectively the states and local governments are actually bigger than the feds. So paying attention to state-based action is important.
For example, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2017 agenda states that New York will implement a household cleaning product ingredient disclosure law. So regardless of what is done by the feds, requirements will change in New York.
So as New York changes its requirements, your organization will have an opportunity to take advantage of this change. Are you prepared?
In addition, I think we should expect actions in California which has the largest state economy in the U.S. and the sixth-largest economy in the world.
While many of their efforts have been criticized and made fun of, they must be doing some things right as their economy is growing at about 4 percent per year which is the highest in the country, twice the rate of other states.
And to further illustrate their success, in the past few years, the state has turned a $26 billion deficit into an $8 billion surplus.
In 2017 we should expect California to continue their various health and environmental initiatives.
Thus if your organization sells products or services in California, regardless of what the federal government does, there will be tremendous opportunities for growth and financial success.
You may not realize it, but we (the professional cleaning industry) really are among the most progressive in the country when it comes to these issues. As the proud “father of Green Cleaning,” I know very well that this did not take place overnight nor was it an easy task.
But when our industry decided that protecting our environment and health was necessary; we embraced this change, seized the opportunity and provided leadership.
In 2017 I am encouraging product distributors to provide leadership by expanding efforts to educate/remind customers of the value of cleaning and the opportunity to further protect health and the environment.
I am encouraging cleaning contractors to promote Green Cleaning and sustainability not only for your customers, but also in your own business operations.
Finally, as we move into 2017, I want to express my gratitude to the leadership role ISSA has played in helping to make our industry Green, as well as helping our distributors and manufacturers to reduce energy and water consumption, and otherwise operate more efficiently and cost-effectively.
So let’s look ahead with excitement because in this time of change there will be great opportunity for those who are prepared. Let’s help others appreciate how important cleaning is to protect health.
Let’s demonstrate how being environmentally responsible is simply good business by reducing waste in every way possible. And together, let’s be leaders and make a real difference in our country, our states and around the world.
Working With Your Distributor
Utilize their expertise to enhance facility sustainability
Ten years ago, building service contractors (BSCs) and in-house cleaning professionals realized that more of their customers and building managers were serious about adopting a green cleaning program. However, while contractors and in-house professionals had certainly heard of green cleaning, they were not intimately familiar with implementing a green cleaning program.
So what did they do? They turned to their distributors for help. Distributors were the ones with the green products; they were the ones manufacturers taught to use these products; and, in most cases, they were the ones who attended early seminars on how to design and implement a green cleaning strategy.
Now let’s fast-forward 10 years. It’s 2016, and many customers and building managers have adopted an effective green cleaning program. Now they want to go a step further and incorporate sustainability into the mix.
Similar to how a decade ago, BSCs and in-house professionals may not have had experience implementing a green cleaning program, few of them currently have the expertise to implement practices that would help a facility reduce its environmental footprint and become more sustainable.
So, again, what do they do? Cleaning professionals are once more turning to jansan distributors for advice and direction on how to implement a sustainability program for the facilities they service.
In all fairness to cleaning professionals, whereas “greener” cleaning products and forms of green cleaning practices came on the scene as far back as the 1970s, sustainability issues remain relatively new. A perfect example of this is the fact that, just three years ago, only 5 percent of Standard and Poor’s (S&P) 500 companies—a stock market index composed of 500 different companies whose collective economic health serves as a barometer for the U.S. economy—included environmental and sustainability issues in their annual Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings. Today, more than 25 percent of S&P 500 firms include such information in their sec reporting.
We also should note that the definition of “sustainability” has been evolving, which has caused some confusion in the marketplace. At one time, sustainability simply referenced the use of natural resources in such a way that their consumption today would not hinder future generations from accessing these same natural resources.
Today, sustainability has much broader interpretations. Not only does it concern protecting natural resources, but it also involves a look at business practices, such as how a business treats its staff; the role it plays in the community that it serves; and ensuring that profits result from responsible leadership, use of natural resources, and long-term strategies to ensure the viability of the company.
What Cleaning Pros Need to Know
When it comes to sustainability, cleaning professionals may turn to their distributors for help with the following:
- Defining sustainability and what it means in their specific facility
- Determining their facility’s needs pertaining to sustainability and the procurement of green and sustainable cleaning products
- Selecting green-certified cleaning solutions, products, and equipment; in most cases, green-certified cleaning solutions are made from renewable resources
- Enhancing their facility’s operational efficiencies and realizing cost savings as a result
- Reducing their facility’s use of natural resources (e.g., water, electricity, and fuel) and its overall environmental footprint by suggesting where consumption reductions are possible
- Providing a ready source of information, advice, and help on sustainability practices.
Steps in the Sustainability Process
Jansan distributors also can help cleaning professionals incorporate a sustainability program using a step-by-step process. In most cases, the approach involves:
- Forming a “sustainability team” composed of building managers, cleaning professionals, and building users
- Communicating to all major stakeholders why the organization seeks to implement the program along with its implications to achieve buy-in on the overall initiative
- Training cleaning professionals on the proper use of sustainable cleaning products and proper procedures that help minimize the impact of cleaning on the facility; in many cases, this will involve learning the guidelines and best practices outlined in the Cleaning Industry
- Management Standard-Green Building (CIMS-GB) from ISSA, the worldwide cleaning industry association
Helping the cleaning contractor or facility manager select alternatives to traditional cleaning and paper products they may use in the facility
- Verifying the performance of the cleaning products selected and continually looking for new products that may help promote the health of the facility along with enhancing sustainability
- Having the team become stewards of the program and ensuring the sustainability program’s implementation, evolution, and revision when and where necessary.
When it comes to selecting more sustainable cleaning solutions, purchasers may consider more than just the ingredients—for instance, the product container size. Most manufacturers offer green cleaning solutions in larger, 5-gallon sizes, which makes them more sustainable than solutions packaged in smaller containers. Also, selecting more highly concentrated cleaning solutions, which may last longer and in turn help reduce transport and fuel needs, reduces the amount of greenhouse gases released due to fuel and transport, and reduces the use of paper, plastic, and other packaging materials. A distributor can help cleaning contractors and facility managers make more sustainable product purchases.
Moreover, a distributor can help cleaning contractors and building managers create guidelines to help eliminate cleaning solutions that they no longer use or need. BSCs and facility managers may accomplish this through a “consolidation” of purchases, a process of selecting products that cleaners can use on multiple surfaces or for multiple purposes. The goal is to minimize the practice of selecting a product that cleaners may only use for a single cleaning task. In addition to enhancing sustainability, selecting fewer products helps BSCs and facility managers reduce training needs, improve cleaning efficiencies, and promote safety—all of which fall under the umbrella of an effective sustainability program.
Stephen Ashkin is chief executive officer of The Sustainability Dashboard Tools LLC. The Sustainability Dashboard is a reporting system that measures and monitors energy, water, and fuel consumption to help reduce environmental impact and cost. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have been receiving my monthly newsletter, DestinationGreen, you know that the US Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED* 2009 (version 3) will be replaced by LEED v4 on October 31, 2016. This mean’s V4 is now in operation.
This will result in all new LEED projects being registered under LEED v4. And it comes at an important time as LEED faces new competition with the introduction of BREEAM-USA’s new “in-use” rating system and the International Well Building Institute’s new standard focused on improving occupant health.
You also know that this new version of LEED includes a number of changes that will impact facility managers as well as building service contractors and janitorial product distributors. I was directly involved with these updates, so what will be discussed are the thoughts and reasons behind these changes; and some helpful implementation tips.
With v4 is in place, it will be up to building owners and managers to make sure the items presented here are executed. And as we will discuss later, it also states that contract cleaners hired to clean and maintain a facility are also aware of and fully trained in the Green Cleaning procedures and practices outlined in this new version. This tells us that the bond between contract cleaners and their clients should be growing closer and stronger. It will require both parties – owners/managers and contract cleaners along with the janitorial product distributors – to help ensure the facility meets the new LEED requirements.**
Under the current version 3, it is easier and less expensive for facilities to be certified as compared to the new version 4. For example, minimal energy requirements have increased significantly from v3 to v4.*** This means that buildings needing energy upgrades and improvements to meet the minimum of this prerequisite will have to go the extra mile (and cost) to meet the increased requirement.
I encourage contract cleaners and product distributors to discuss the timing of LEED registration with your clients. While the facility can still use the additional compliance options found in v4, registering now under v3 will give them extra flexibility and can save them a lot of money – opportunities they may not be aware of.
The Big Change for Green Cleaning
Possibly one of the most significant changes instituted in v4 is facilities no longer earn a credit for having what LEED calls a “high-performance Green Cleaning” policy in place. So we are all on the same page, a high-performance Green Cleaning policy, as defined by the USGBC, is a policy intended “to reduce the exposure of building occupants and maintenance personnel to potentially hazardous chemical, biological and particulate contaminants, which adversely affect air quality, human health, building finishes, building systems and the environment.”
Instead of meeting this credit and earning a point towards certification in v3, having such a program in place is now a prerequisite in v4—that is, a “must-have.” Even if a facility should earn points and qualify for certification in every other area, without a high-performance Green Cleaning policy in place it will not be certified in v4.
However, LEED v4 offers an important new option. If the cleaning of the facility has been certified by Green Seal’s GS-42 program or ISSA’s CIMS-GB program, this will satisfy the prerequisite. This is because these programs meet the intent of the prerequisite as they address purchasing of environmentally preferable (Green) cleaning products, Green and sustainable cleaning practices, training of cleaning personnel, and other issues.
This option is helpful for both building owners/managers and contract cleaners. For owners and managers it simplifies the submission requirements and reduces a considerable amount of time meeting those requirements. For cleaning contractors that are GS-42 or CIMS-GB certified, a number of new doors of opportunity have just opened. Owners and managers can benefit from your help to get their properties LEED certified. (See sidebar: Benefits of LEED Certification)
Other Changes in LEED V4
In general, most of the updates and other changes in v4 are designed to take Green Cleaning to the next level. To do so, they have tightened many of the rules. For instance:
• Custodial Effectiveness: The v3 LEED guidelines allow the use the APPA Leadership in Educational Facilities Custodial Staffing Guidelines as a method to highlight the importance of effective cleaning. In v3, the facility must score 3 or less; in v4, that has been lowered to 2.5 or less (the lower the number, the higher level of cleaning). While a score of 2.5 is still pretty low, it is another step in the right direction.
• Cleaning Products: With v3, only 30 percent of the total cost for cleaning products including chemicals, janitorial paper and plastic can liners must meet the specific environmental standards to earn the credit. LEED v4 brings that up to 75 percent. This has significant impacts for buildings that were able to meet this credit by only purchasing toilet tissue and paper hand towels with recycled content. Now all products will need to be addressed.
• Cleaning Equipment: With equipment such as vacuum cleaners, floor machines, scrubbers and extractors, v3 required only 20 percent of the equipment meet the requirements. In v4, this has increased to 40 percent, along with a “phase-out plan” allowing managers and cleaning contractors just one year to make this adjustment.
• Additional Compliance Paths: In v3, chemical cleaning products have to be certified by either EcoLogo, now known as UL Environment, or Green Seal; v4 adds the Environmental Protection Agency’s Safer Choice Program as an option as this program continues to improve its standard, verification system and other requirements. The USGBC felt that including more options, where appropriate, increases competition in the marketplace which typically results in lower prices of products due to increased availability, and improvements in the standards and services provided by the certifying body.
• Innovation: LEED v4 also encourages innovation. This means LEED will offer credits if a facility uses new technologies that, for instance, help reduce water consumption or waste management systems and help reduce the overall environmental impact of a facility. As to cleaning, an example of a new innovation would be the use of ‘engineered water’ or the use of devices that produce cleaning solutions on-site. As long as independent studies indicate these technologies have environmental benefits they are considered and encouraged.
Overall, all of these changes are made for the same reason and that is for facilities to have a more complete, comprehensive and effective Green Cleaning program in place to help protect occupant health as well as the environment.
A LEED V4 Disappointment
While I am very enthusiastic about most of the updates and changes introduced in v4, I must admit there is one disappointment. In my view, plastic liners used in facilities should be of the appropriate size and thickness, and contain post-consumer recycled plastic resin (PCR). This meets the needs of building occupants with the most efficient use of materials, minimizing cost and environmental impacts while rewarding those manufactures which have upgraded their equipment to make high quality bags using PCR.
However, while many voices agreed with me about the use of post-consumer recycled content in all plastic can liners, some claimed that liners with recycled content are less dependable and are more likely to tear. As a result, v4 allows thin bags typically used in large numbers for deskside waste and recycling containers be exempt from using recycled resin. It remains my hope — and what I consider best practices to use thin bags with a minimum amount (at least 10 percent) of post-consumer recycled content for these deskside containers.
Although this is my disappointment, as indicated there are many good things in LEED v4 that I am enthusiastic about. One of them is that it further elevates our industry. We are now key players in helping building owners and managers earn LEED certification. Our entire industry is essentially a prerequisite for a facility to earn LEED certification and achieve its goal of protecting the health of building occupants and the environment.
Stephen P. Ashkin is president of The Ashkin Group, and the professional cleaning industry’s leading advocate for promoting sustainability. He is also CEO of Sustainability Dashboard Tools, which offers a cloud-based dashboard that allows organizations to measure, report, and improve their sustainability efforts. He is the coauthor of both The Business of Green Cleaning and Green Cleaning for Dummies.
*LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is an internationally recognized Green building certification system, providing third-party verification that a building or community is built or operated using strategies aimed at improving performance that include energy savings, enhanced water efficiency, improved indoor air and overall environmental quality, and greater sensitivity to how building operations impact tenants and the environment.
** Many facilities do not try to become LEED certified but still follow the guidelines in the LEED program. Therefore, these changes and updates would apply to them as well.
***EPA’s ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager score increases from 69 to 75
Sidebar: Benefits of LEED Certification
For more than a decade, research studies and case studies have been published indicating the benefits of a facility being LEED certified or following LEED guidelines. While they may vary, in general these facilities benefit from higher rents; longer lasting