As building service contractors look to diversify to increase revenue, some services are easier to add than others. When it comes to adding pest control, licensing and certification requirements as well as the potential for lawsuits, deters many BSCs from providing this service themselves; instead they seek help from a subcontractor.

However, effective facility pest control doesn’t solely hinge on the subcontractor’s services. Problems with insects, rodents and other pests are often due to conditions in and around buildings that building service contractors can control, says Bill Griffin, owner of Cleaning Consultant Services Inc., Seattle.

BSCs can establish janitorial operations as pest prevention’s first line of defense.

“I think sometimes we overlook the fact that the people doing the cleaning are all over the facility and may see risk areas for pests long before pests become a problem,” Griffin says.


Integrated Pest Management

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) can be applied to credits in LEED for Existing Buildings: Operation & Maintenance, and is an area BSCs can and should take an active role — whether or not the facility is going after LEED certification.

IPM uses a variety of methods to control pests. While chemical pesticides may be part of the equation, IPM also relies on prevention to control the conditions that may attract and support pests. Problems arise when pests have food, water, harborage or access, and this is where BSCs can have tremendous impact.

Janitorial teams are likely to see evidence of pests or the pests themselves as they carry out their cleaning duties. For this reason, BSCs should educate their staff on the types of pests they may find, the signs of pest infestation and the steps to take when they spot these things.

“The people who do the cleaning work may see risk areas first,” Griffin says. “But if they are not trained to be aware of these things and what they mean or they don’t know what they should do when they see them, little may be done until a problem arises.”

Griffin explains if janitors see dripping water underneath a sink they are trained to write up a maintenance work order. But if they notice a mouse in the back, a hole in a screen or a gap in a doorway, they don’t always know whom to contact to correct the problem. Subcontracted pest control firms can train staff on the basics so custodial teams can readily identify pest problems.

“You don’t want to wait until the pests are inside the building to do something about them,” Griffin adds.

The Massachusetts Department of Food and Agriculture Pesticide Bureau’s IPM Kit for Building Managers recommends three primary undertakings for custodial teams:

• Reduce sources of food. Make sure trash receptacles are emptied regularly, after building occupants leave for the day. Replace liners and bags every time the receptacles are emptied. Store trash in a single area of the building in closed containers or Dumpsters. Vacuum areas where occupants consume food regularly. And work to educate building occupants about the importance of storing food properly.

• Reduce sources of water. Insects and rodents seek out moist areas and standing water. Store mops, sponges or damp rags in a manner that enables them to dry out as quickly as possible. Clogged drains, leaky pipes and faucets should be repaired quickly.

• Reduce access. Make sure to quickly patch holes in exterior walls, doors or windows to prevent access. Don’t prop doors open, particularly those near kitchens or trash storage areas. Do not store boxes, paper or other materials near trash; this puts food and shelter in the same area making it a particularly attractive haven for pests.

“Pests come in for harborage (to get away from cold weather), to raise their young, and for water and food,” says Griffin. “Cleaning up around garbage cans, not letting things lay on the floor, making sure tables in kitchens or breakrooms don’t have food residue lying around, these are all things that are part of the pest control effort.”

The IPM Kit also recommends designating a person to oversee pest control activities. Even if the service is subcontracted, this should be the BSC’s role. When workers spot pests, these problems should be reported to that person, who is in charge of contacting the pest control company and maintaining a log of all pest control activities.

Greening pest control

“One of the trends in pest control is going green,” says Griffin. “You wouldn’t think pest control is an area that could be green but they are finding natural materials that are offensive to pests that may deter them from entering the building.”

Cayenne pepper, for example, can be sprinkled around facilities to deter ants. Plants such as the Osage Orange shrub repel insects. Trash bags releasing a mint vapor discourage flies, mosquitoes, mice and rats. Ultrasonic technology wards off pests inside and outside facilities. Door sweeps reduce gaps eliminating spots for rodents to squeeze in.

“These are all things BSCs can do that do not require licenses. Some of the new products out there are not hazardous to anything but the pests themselves, so BSCs can safely apply them,” Griffin says.

Ronnie Garrett is a freelance writer based in Fort Atkinson, Wis.