As Hurricane Ike blew into Texas and the Gulf Coast during the middle of September, many evacuated the area and prepared their homes and offices for the hurricane’s damage.

But before the storm hit, building service contractors were able to lean on the knowledge they gained firsthand from previous hurricanes and tropical storms to better prepare for the hurricane’s possible damage.

“Past experiences allowed us to put together a game plan quicker to reduce the time it took in preparing for the storm,” says Brad Klein, president of Houston-based Building Professionals of Texas.

Aside from removing some equipment from the floor, companies focused on being technologically prepared for the storm.

“Our files and data are hosted by a third party system,” says Leslie Willard, president of System 4 of Houston. “The files and data were placed on the back end so we could access them from any Internet connection.”

Building Professionals of Texas had all of their calls forwarded to the general manager’s home, who lives approximately 45 minutes outside of Houston, says Klein.

“We were getting calls starting on Sunday and could react from that point,” says Klein.

Even with certain preparation, companies still suffered damage to their offices. System 4 replaced the carpet and cleaned up rainwater from leaking windows. Building Professionals had some dampness in their office.

After cleaning up their own facilities, BSCs were eager to return to work. While System 4 does not perform any water damage restoration work, Building Professionals had the opportunity to reach new customers.

“It helped us with customers who we had sent proposals to,” says Klein. “We were lucky that we were able to help them out right away.”

Reaching new customers was just a part of what Klein was able to get out of the storm recovery experience.

“I hate to say anything positive came out of the whole experience, but we are stronger today than we were three weeks ago,” Klein says. “I had the chance to see my management team pull together and up until that point I did not realize how truly blessed I am to be working with such a good team.”

The destruction caused by Hurricane Ike also elicited a reaction from manufacturers and associations. Philadelphia-based SCA Tissue North America used Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief charity, to donate 34,560 rolls of paper towels to Baton Rouge and Houston food banks.

ISSA, Lincolnwood, Ill., has partnered with Gifts In Kind International to work with corporate donors and nonprofit agencies to identify the needs of victims damaged by the hurricane. Items needed include building and repair supplies, cleaning supplies and communications equipment.



 Final Version Of GS-37 Met With Contention

Green Seal, Washington, D.C., has released the final version of GS-37 that aims to protect sensitive and vulnerable populations such as children.

The primary goal of the revision is to guarantee that the program continues to represent a standard of environmental leadership geared to incorporate criteria that protects human health, especially that of children and custodial workers, says Dr. Arthur Weissman, Ph.D., president and CEO of Green Seal.

The revised standard criteria emphasizes consideration of vulnerable populations in institutional settings such as schools, day-care facilities, nursing homes and other facilities.

The revision was met with discontent from several stakeholders in the process. Dissenting members include: the New York State Chemical Alliance, the Alkylphenol Ethoxylates Research Council, the American Chemistry Council, the Carpet & Rug Institute, the Fragrance Materials Association, Reckitt Benckiser Inc., SI Group Inc. and The Soap and Detergent Association.

In a letter sent to Dr. Weissman, Stephen M. Rosario, executive director of the New York State Chemical Alliance, claimed the voting process was neither open nor transparent — two of the guiding principles of the revision.

The letter accuses Green Seal of not following the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) process to reach a consensus as it was indicated on Green Seal’s Web site.

Aside from opposing the voting process, the letter highlights a philosophical point of contention with Green Seal, since the organization’s belief is using a hazard-based approach.

“Green Seal’s strict adherence to a hazard-based approach, and rejection of the basic principles of science-based risk assessment accepted around the world, were at the very core of our philosophical differences and would impede any chance of a consensus-based standard,” writes Rosario.

The companies will not support the revised standard and do not consent to any statement made by Green Seal that the organizations support the final standard.

Green Seal has responded to these charges in a letter Weissman sent to Rosario. The letter states that the ballot process was open and transparent.

“All interested parties were allowed to participate in the public review period and given several opportunities to register as a stakeholder for more active involvement throughout the process,” writes Weissman.

The organization adhered to the ISO standard and other stakeholders fully supported the hazard-based approach and that the ballot was split. It was up to Green Seal to create a standard that would ensure the protection of vulnerable populations and the environment.

The standard will be measured by the way the revision changes the market of cleaning products so as to make them more protective to those most vulnerable, specifically children, according to Weissman’s letter.



BSCAI Files Chapter 11 Reorganization

The Building Service Contractors Association International (BSCAI), Chicago, has filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in attempts to drive value to the members of the association.

Reorganization is a tool granted by the U.S. government made for groups and businesses to facilitate organizational growth.

The current board of directors says that filing reorganization is the best practice to preserve and manage the assets of the organization. It can enable the organization to develop and fund programs that provide value to members and a return on a member’s investment.

The decision to reorganize was based on the inability to negotiate or sublet the office space of the former headquarters on acceptable terms.

The organization will operate under the direction of the BSCAI board of directors and will continue to provide services such as hosting the annual convention and trade show.




JohnsonDiversey, Sturtevant, Wis., has joined the World Wildlife Fund’s Climate Savers program.

As part of the program, JohnsonDiversey pledges to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions from their operations.

While the company will invest $19 million over the following five years to honor the commitments, company officials expect an operational savings of $31 million due to enforcing the initiatives.

By 2013, the company pledges to reduce emissions from operations by 8 percent below their 2003 levels.