If you have not incorporated a comprehensive green cleaning program into your business, maybe it’s because you’re not quite sure how to get started. Green cleaning isn’t just about protecting the environment; it’s also about protecting the health of building occupants and cleaning staff while enhancing overall productivity. Implementing green products and processes can also reduce the costs associated with your overall operations — so why wait?
The following steps will help you set up a healthy, high performance cleaning program that will reduce costs while minimizing impact on occupants, cleaning personnel, the building and the environment.
Promoting a green cleaning program internally will raise the standing of your cleaning crew and facility team.
Step 1 - Assemble Your Team and Make a Commitment
Commitment to the program is an absolute necessity for everyone, from senior management to the cleaning crew. In fact, an initial meeting is recommended to establish objectives and milestones of the green cleaning program. In a school, for example, the meeting may include a school board member, a principal, member of the teaching staff and even a member of the PTA. The head of buildings and grounds, the local distributor and representatives from strategic suppliers should also be included in the meeting.
- Conversions by specific dates to environmentally preferable chemicals, tools and equipment.
- Account for current inventory levels, dispenser upgrades, and training.
- Establish broader goals within measurable periods for your indoor environmental quality program.
- Goals may include improved overall attendance of students or employees, or improved awareness among occupants and visitors.
- Make sure your goals are understood by all, as the people you work with will be the ultimate judges of the success of your program.
Step 2 - Conduct a Facility Survey and Assessment
By conducting a building survey of your facilities, you may be able to identify potential problems leading to situations that compromise indoor environmental quality. Begin with the outside. Look for the locations of air intakes. Are they free and clear of trash bins, auto exhaust or other potential sources of indoor air contamination?
Inside, entryways should be under a rigorous maintenance program to minimize outdoor contaminants from being dragged into the facility. Check out the walk-off matting systems, their quality, the length of matting, and their level of maintenance. These are just a few of several opportunities you may discover to improve your indoor environmental quality.
Step 3 - Build Consensus Among Cleaning Managers
Keep in mind that 60% to 70% of the cleaning budget is labor. That’s why a green cleaning program is so much more than getting the products right. It’s also about introducing the right policies and procedures on how to clean for health and the environment.
Rely upon vendors that have developed comprehensive procedural manuals. Providing clear procedures will help you win “buy-in” from your janitorial staff. Team-building should be ongoing. Remind staff that making innovative improvements in the cleaning program could lead to recognition and maybe even promotions.
Step 4 - Train the Cleaning Team
After setting in place the right procedures and policies, it’s time to train the cleaning personnel and teach them appropriate cleaning procedures. Training should include issues relating to chemical and equipment safety, as well as appropriate product storage and disposal of waste materials. Additional training sessions may be provided to inform and motivate the cleaning personnel about their critical role in maintaining a safe, healthy high performing indoor environment. Cleaning procedures should be reviewed and improved with a desire to implement a process designed to protect health and safety. That’s why training is continually needed. Procedures should be specifically designed based on the requirements of individual areas of the building.
Step 5 - Promote Your Program
Your green cleaning program should include the participation of the building occupants. A well-designed communication program will encourage them to help keep the indoor environment safe and healthy. Communication vehicles and tools should be used to promote and market your program internally to building management, building occupants and cleaning personnel.
Communication opportunities can include messages dispersed through the organization’s intranet, newsletters, employee meetings and posted notices such as posters, table tents, static clings, bookmarks, etc. Also, look for ways to promote and market your program externally to the community, customers, investors and other stakeholders through local media, organizations and events. A great green cleaning program is worth talking about and raises the standing of your cleaning crew and facility management team.
Step 6 - Aim for Continuous Improvement
Continued enhancement of your green cleaning program is important to the health and happiness of your facilities and people. Conduct periodic feedback sessions and occupant surveys. Feedback from occupants should be reviewed and opportunities for improvement evaluated.
Periodic meetings with cleaning personnel should be ongoing for both the training of newly hired cleaning personnel, as well as to reinforce proper green cleaning procedures with existing personnel. Most importantly, be sure to go back and make an honest assessment of how well you met the goals you established in Step 1. Use the results of the program as a means to obtain budget increases to continue down the path of greening your facility.
Today’s cleaning managers are challenged to continually exceed the demands of their customers, which include organizational management, building occupants and visitors. As the general public becomes more concerned about the impact of the indoor environment on both health and productivity, the need to maintain a safe, healthy, high-performing indoor environment will increase.
With these six steps you can start to build a green cleaning strategy that makes everyone happier and makes you look like a hero.
Information courtesy of JohnsonDiversey