The second area managers should focus on when launching a green cleaning program: Research

Do as much research as you can. When I researched green cleaning, it became clear that my focus was on the students and staff. When you stop and think about the number of hours they spend in the building, you realize what they are exposed to and how changes in cleaning processes and products can improve health. 
I found that applying for a Green Cleaning Award helped identify what “green” equipment or practices we already had in place. On the flip side, we also identified practices that were not the best for the environment or employees, and we made strides to change them.
One of the hardest things about starting a green program is identifying the right products. If you have a vendor or two that you trust, start with them. They want to keep your business, so the adage of “trust but verify” comes into play. For cleaning chemicals, my first two questions were always: What are the kill claims and do you have third-party verification?

When I first implemented green initiatives, my first change was switching to self-generating cleaning chemicals, which was a slow process. I did not want to handle any major purchases until I knew what I was using worked as advertised.

Liners are the next challenge we are tackling as part of the green cleaning program at Folsom Lake College. I am looking into doing more research on liners because I know the fastest way to upset a cleaning crew is with bad liners that tear or leak. We’re conducting small tests in selected buildings that are hard on the current liners, and are asking for feedback on the proposed products.

The production and disposal of liners have a lasting impact on the environment, so if any positive changes can be reached, I feel that it is time well spent.

I can’t stress enough that the key to switching to green products is not just starting, but starting right. Proper research and partnering with reliable vendors will help.
For example, I had brought on one piece of equipment and it had all sorts of technical issues — the water pump was bad and the wire-harness wasn’t working right. I pulled the vendor off to the side and explained what I was trying to accomplish with green technology, and if this continued, I would have to start working with another vendor. It was amazing how fast the issue was solved.

I point this out for the simple reason that some in your department will look for anything to disparage green cleaning. It’s important to have your facts ready, understand the products and be ready to change if what you are trying isn’t working.

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