By Stephen Ashkin

Stephen Ashkin is president of The Ashkin Group, a nationally renowned consulting firm helping both contractors and building owners “green” the cleaning process.
Building service contractors committed to green cleaning are becoming a significant and growing factor in the marketplace. However, they face a unique set of challenges in working with a diverse group of institutional clients. The following guidance for BSCs is excerpted from my new book, “Green Cleaning for Dummies,” recently published by ISSA.

Becoming a green BSC
Contractors going green face a few concerns, including:
  • Does going green mean that all cleaning operations performed by your company will be green, regardless of the customer’s wishes?

  • What happens if the client specifies the product to be used and it isn’t green?

  • What if the cleaning specifications provided by the client (and required by the contract) don’t meet your green standards?

Moving your company toward green cleaning while respecting and servicing the needs of your clients can be daunting. But, the rewards — distinguishing yourself from the competition, protecting the health of your employees as well as the occupants of your clients’ buildings, and making a difference in the environment — are significant as well.

The green-cleaning plan you build for your business isn’t the only one you need as a contractor. You’ll create a multitude of plans — one for each facility. Relax; you’re not reinventing the wheel each time. Most of each building plan comes from your company’s green-cleaning program. You modify that basic plan to meet the needs of a specific facility’s characteristics.

Your organization is concerned with two types of green-cleaning goals: those established for and by your company and those of your various clients. Although your company executes or even leads a significant part of your client’s green-cleaning program, you are part of their “Green Team” and working toward their green-cleaning goals.

Some clients specify the chemicals, equipment and paper that you use in their facility, which puts you in a difficult spot when those products don’t live up to your green standards. In order to continue offering your clients and employees a better way of cleaning (and to stay in business), explain to your client or prospect the advantages of using green products. Given the advances in technology and the competitive marketplace, green products are as effective as (or more effective than) traditional products, and they cost about the same. Making some relatively small changes creates a better workplace without increasing costs.

When using green products, BSCs still need to ensure their employees follow all manufacturers’ use and safety instructions for any chemicals used. Issue and require the use of appropriate personal protective equipment. Premix all concentrates and use only properly labeled RTU containers. Modify cleaning procedures to minimize potential exposure to employees and other building occupants.

All these steps will help you implement a green-cleaning program that will allow both you and your customers to succeed.