Stephen Ashkin, President of The Ashkin Group and CEO of Sustainability Dashboard Tools, LLC, believes 2013 will be a “tipping point” year for the professional cleaning industry as cleaning professionals become more involved in reducing clients’ operating costs by becoming more sustainable.
“Building owners will increasingly turn to their suppliers, including cleaning contractors, to help reduce [resource] consumption,” says Ashkin. “This helps to protect the environment and promote sustainability, while at the same time improving the bottom line.”
According to Ashkin, in some cases these savings can amount to as much as 25 cents per square foot, a significant sum for a large facility.
Why are cleaning professionals so important in this equation? “Because they see everything [in the facility], including how electricity is used and where savings are possible,” says Ashkin.
For example, some facility managers are asking cleaning crews to turn off lights, printers, monitors, vending machines [for nonperishable items], and other devices during evenings and weekends.
A vending machine alone can use up to 4,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year—an amount equal to about a third of the annual electricity usage of an average U.S. household.
To help building owners achieve these reductions, Ashkin also believes facilities will start using standardized sustainability color-coding systems.
These systems allow managers and cleaning professionals to place colored “dots” on a variety of “plug load” areas in a facility, from light switches and thermostats to vending machines. The various dot colors indicate whether a given electronic device can or should be left on, turned down, or turned off at certain times in order to save energy.
“These systems will prove their value as cost savers and help building owners become much more sustainable,” explains Ashkin.
Finally, Ashkin predicts greater transparency in 2013. “There will be continued efforts from third-party standard setters and certifiers to drive innovation on Greener products and sustainability.
“Among the most important new developments for the cleaning industry will be Ecoform’s Transpare™ program, which provides information about key ingredients found in cleaning [chemicals], along with sustainability dashboards and other systems that allow organizations to track and report their use of natural resources.”