Lessons From The Field

Problem: As more facilities look to “green” their operations, cleaning services frequently are asked what they can do to contribute. While suggestions often relate to how crews clean the buildings, facilities sometimes get more creative, finding alternatives that address the fundamentals of soil removal without drastically altering cleaning services.The following is one example shared with ISSA staff during the recent U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)’s Greenbuild Conference.

Solution: Property management firm Thomas Properties got creative when faced with obtaining the USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Existing Buildings (LEED-EB) certification for its client, the California Environmental Protection Agency, at the agency’s headquarters in Sacramento, CA. The management firm eliminated the use of traditional trash can liners and started using reusable cloth bags in centrally located recycling bins. The company also created savings by adhering to the common sense rule that a cleaner entryway leads to a lower level of foreign soil in a building. Increased entryway cleaning not only kept the indoor environment cleaner for occupants, but also reduced cleaning needs in walk-off areas.

Annual savings: $60,000 per year in liner elimination; $20,000 in reusable cloth bags in recycling bins; $9,500 saved due to entryway cleaning.


One of the biggest issues a facility manager or building service contractor faces is workloading: correctly scheduling the appropriate number of people to clean a facility. As you know, labor is the biggest expense when it comes to budgeting for the overall cleaning operation. So it would stand to reason that the better handle you have on your labor expense, the better and more efficient your cleaning process and/or company will be.

Think about your facility. How many people does it take to clean the space? The answer depends on your building’s unique characteristics. Just some of the items that will affect this answer include cleaning frequencies; cleaning system; customer expectations; facility type, age, and size; quality level desired; and budget constraints.

Many people in the cleaning industry mistakenly believe that they can walk into a facility and, based on past experience, quickly determine how many hours are needed to clean the building. Another common technique — dividing the number of square feet by a “theoretical productivity rate” — may occasionally produce a correct number, but it is inaccurate more often than not.

Workloading is the only reliable method of determining how many service hours are needed for a building. Workloading answers the question, “How long should it take to clean my building?” By systematically applying time standards to each task and area within a facility, workloading embodies the truth that “time is money” by recognizing that every task takes time and by “dollarizing” that time.

If workloading is an issue in your facility, you may want to check out ISSA’s new INFOCLEAN software. Developed by KnowledgeWorx Inc., INFOCLEAN is an easy-to-use software package that walks you through the steps of workloading your buildings. Be sure to specify whether you want the standard version (designed for most buildings) or the educational facilities version (designed for schools and universities and based on the Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers' custodial guidelines).

For more information about these workloading tools, contact the ISSA Customer Service Department at 800-225-4772 (North America) or 847-982-0800; or logon.

Regulatory News

ISSA has established a Green Advisory Committee of its members to help the association weigh in on the crucial importance of environmental preferability in today’s marketplace and develop a consensus position on emerging green issues.

One of the committee’s first acts was to help ISSA develop official comments on the Draft Scope of the Green Seal Green Cleaning Services Standard. The committee also helped ISSA staff prepare to exhibit at the recent U.S. Green Building Council’s Greenbuild Conference last November in Atlanta, GA, where ISSA also held a High-Performance Healthy Cleaning workshop and hosted a panel discussion on green cleaning.

ISSA’s Green Advisory Committee is made up of multiple members representing the major segments of the cleaning industry, from distributors and manufacturers to facility service providers.

Green Seal Standard
Among the stated goals of the Green Seal Green Cleaning Services Standard are to promote a sustainable building environment through more healthful and environmentally responsible cleaning; reduce impacts to indoor air quality; improve worker safety; reduce negative impacts from cleaning processes; and promote the efficient use of resources. Ultimately, companies that meet the criteria will be able to achieve Green Seal certification for their cleaning services. Below is a summary of ISSA’s comments on the Draft Scope of the Green Seal Green Cleaning Services Standard.

  • In general, ISSA is in agreement with the stated goals of the standard, but believes that two additional goals need to be added:
    1. The identification of the most effective and efficient cleaning processes that maximize the removal of soil and other contaminants from the built environment. The standard should not lose sight of the primary purpose of cleaning—the removal of harmful contaminants.
    2. The recognition of the tangible economic benefits associated with enhancing the quality of the indoor environment.
  • The standard should apply to all cleaning services performed by in-house providers, but should only apply to particular services offered by building service contractors (BSCs) to allow BSCs the flexibility to offer green cleaning services as well as traditional services and still be certified.

  • The scope of the standard should include both typical (i.e., office, retail, publicly owned buildings) and specialty (i.e., hospitals, nursing homes) facilities, but should not extend to those areas within specialty facilities that pose unique cleaning challenges (i.e., clean rooms in industrial facilities, operating rooms).

For more information on ISSA’s comments on the Draft Scope of the Green Seal Green Cleaning Services Standard, please contact ISSA’s Director of Legislative Affairs Bill Balek, at 800-225-4772 (North America) or 847-982-0800; e-mail.

Welcome New ISSA Members!

Certified Carpet Service, Inc., Lancaster, PA
JDD, Inc., Highland Hills, OH
Northern New England Employment Services, Concord, NH
Perfection Commercial Services, Inc., Tekonsha, MI
ProTech Building Services, Inc., Denver, CO
Texas Association of School Boards, Inc., Austin, TX
Individual Members
Grant Meyer, Ft. Zumwalt School District, O’Fallon, MO
Kent L. Miller CHESP, Mercy Medical Center, Cedar Rapids, IA


March 8-10, 2006 ISSA/INTERCLEAN® Mexico 2006, Centro Banamex, Mexico City, D.F., Mexico.

May 9-12, 2006 ISSA/INTERCLEAN® Amsterdam 2006, Amsterdam RAI International Exhibition and Congress Centre, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

September 20-22, 2006 ISSA/INTERCLEAN® China 2006, ShanghaiMart Expo, Shanghai, China.

October 4-7, 2006 ISSA/INTERCLEAN® USA 2006, McCormick Place, Chicago.

October 4-7, 2006 DistriPak USA, McCormick Place, Chicago. Contact Larry Drago, 800-355-6782.

October 23-26, 2007 ISSA/INTERCLEAN® USA 2007, Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, FL.

All information in "ISSA Reports" is furnished by ISSA. ©2005. All rights reserved.