Seiche Sanders' portraitI think a lot of jan/san executives dismiss the “green” movement as an inherently anti-business phenomenon. This mindset is mired in beliefs that green products don’t work and that they cost too much.

Your good humor when it comes to persistent customer requests for environmentally preferable products may not be enough. Many of your customers are under a great deal of peer pressure to invest in products that contribute to their buildings’ so-called sustainability. There are even new market incentives that make the investment more palpable.

But, is business better for it?

The experts we interviewed for “Green’s Growing Reach” contend that the latest green movement is an attempt to to make buildings — where we spend 90 percent of our time — healthier for all occupants: tenants and employees. Green advocates are emphasizing building sustainability, a natural resource issue. The interesting twist — and here’s what gets your customers’ attention: building owners are being told that going green can be good for the bottom line.

I spoke with two distributors who have experienced phenomenal success with green products. In New Jersey, Eagle Maintenance Supply recently won the U.S. Department of Interior’s (DOI) prestigious “Closing the Circle” award for making a positive environmental impact. Across the country, in Portland, Ore., Coastwide Laboratories is anticipating 40 percent growth in green product sales in 2004 — up from an 8 percent increase in 2003.

We also talked with the U.S. Green Building Council about its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design™ (LEED) and LEED for Existing Buildings (LEED-EB™) programs that reward facilities for environmentally preferable design and maintenance. These programs and others like them are designed to get building owners thinking green because facility maintenance ultimately will be cheaper, and building occupants will function more effectively and efficiently.

The market momentum seems irreversible. Are you in a position to ride the wave?