It’s not done until they say it’s done. Contractors know that is the best way to get and keep a satisfied customer. That was also a guiding principle of a project I completed a couple years ago for the Washington state Department of Ecology. Occupants had complained about the indoor air quality since the building was built 10 years earlier. A succession of consultants was on the right track, but their recommendations were not accepted by occupants who felt their health concerns were not satisfactorily resolved. These occupants usually disagreed with management’s remedial decisions and consequently had difficulty accepting management actions to solve the problem.

Validation was a crucial element missing from the previous remediation efforts. Our validation process was integrated into the project from the start and was a key factor for the occupants’ acceptance of our remediation plan. The process guided the occupants toward the solution, but let them discover it with us. It created the foundation for accepting and trusting the plan. Once the benefits of the plan were understood and accepted, we worked with the occupants to implement the solution.

The same ideology can be applied to any green-cleaning program. It is too easy to declare victory for green cleaning because of the environmental, health and safety benefits. You need validation from the building management and occupants for long-term success and support for your program.

Your validation process begins with providing your building management and occupants a clear understanding for the need and benefits of green cleaning. It is important to define the benefits that would specifically apply to them. It may be helpful in some cases to conduct surveys to learn the level of their understanding and what they expect from the green program.

Validation also requires you to manage customer expectations. Most people outside of the building maintenance industry have only a general idea of what a green-cleaning program does for them. If you make the benefits and expectations clear and personal, you will improve the level of understanding and acceptance. If you have promoted your green cleaning program as protecting health and the environment, you should conduct periodic reviews to verify their expectations.

People get the most satisfaction from something they decide for themselves. If you have been successful in delivering the benefits of your program and managing their expectations, you also have established a good process for people to independently evaluate and accept the merits of green cleaning. With periodic customer satisfaction surveys, you will also have an excellent method for continuous feedback.

In some situations, validations may require sophisticated protocols. However, in most cases, it only requires the realization that it’s not really green and clean until they say it’s green and clean.