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December 20, 2012
Facilities: A 5-Year retrospective on ‘green’ cleaning
by Stephanie Thomas, Team Cleaning Solutions Cleaning commercial and industrial buildings, whether retail stores and offices or manufacturing plants and hospitals, requires large amounts of heavy-duty cleaning equipment and chemicals. It wasn't very long ago that most of the chemicals used were very harmful to the environment, as well as to the people who worked in the building. In the last 5 years, though, as technology advances and more options have become available, there has been a growing trend toward so-called “green” cleaning solutions, according to Team Solutions (, a green facility maintenance and industrial cleaning company. Environmental mandates include Executive Orders 13101 and 13148, which require more accountability from federal agencies and thousands of organizations. In 2005, Washington State enacted legislation on environmentally responsible building design, operations, and maintenance and, a year later, New York State started requiring green cleaning products in all public and private schools. How have these changes affected facility maintenance over the last 5 years? Green cleaning innovations have expanded beyond harmful chemicals to include processes and equipment, and there are developments in air filtration systems, chemical-free cleaning systems, low-moisture floor cleaners, and a range of chemical dilution systems. Right now, the cleaning industry employs over 3.5 million people, and every year it uses around 6 billion pounds of chemicals. That is a lot of people and a lot of cleaning materials coming together to create a huge impact on the environment, and this is why many government and private sector initiatives have been created to encourage faster adoption of legislation and more consistent processes. The simple reality is that most of businesses understand the need for measures that minimize impact on the environment. However, if it hurts their profits, they will remain hesitant to make the necessary changes. They need to see a direct correlation between green solutions and increased profit before they will make the change. With some of the most recent advances, this has become a real possibility. In the last 5 years, the success of many corporate initiatives has led to measurable improvements in productivity, profitability, performance, and morale. More importantly, perhaps, is that green cleaning solutions can produce the same results as conventional cleaners and now cost nearly the same. Five years ago, the same products would have cost 50 percent more than traditional cleaners, which would immediately make a business reconsider making the change. Now, though, the advances in technology have made cleaning equipment and earth-friendly chemicals and cleaning equipment viable business alternatives in facility maintenance.
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