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Sustainable Cleaning in Facilities Management

Sustainable Cleaning in Facilities Management
17 November 2021

Environmental concerns have to be taken into consideration to survive in the long term, and procuring sustainable cleaning supplies is one such way for FMs.

Tim Bench from Galleon Suppliers writes about how sustainability provides an effective way to live and work and how facilities managers can ensure that facilities are sustainably maintained.

Tim Bench is the owner of Galleon Supplies. Tim has more than 20 years' experience in the cleaning supplies industry, serving more than 20,000 businesses in the UK and across Europe. Galleon Supplies was started in 1971 by Tim's father, Irvine Bench, initially running the business from the garage of the family home. Today, the company is based in Coventry, employing 15 full-time staff. 



Picture: a photograph of Tim Bench


Carrying out Risk Assessments as a Facilities Manager 


As a facility manager, the health and safety of your employees are paramount. The most visible part of facility risk management is the day-to-day use of your buildings. Creating a clear blueprint that allows you to establish a clean and green work environment is important.

Workspaces not following a green route may end up with ‘sick building syndrome.’ This occurs when buildings are not cared for properly. Poor ventilation, high levels of dust and low humidity can lead to employees getting ill regularly. A facility that is green and free of harmful chemicals and waste provides a healthier environment for employees. 

Sustainability requires a comprehensive plan of action and companies must implement sustainable practices if they want to continue to grow. Here are some of the ways you can create a greener office that will benefit your team, business and environment. 


Assessing Current Cleaning Products


Any change to your business’ cleaning program can have a positive long-term effect, the goal is to adopt processes that minimize harm to the environment.

Before putting in place a green cleaning program, facility managers must first assess their current cleaning products in order to maximise efficiency and search for opportunities to improve environmental responsibility. Examine whether there is the opportunity to turn your current cleaning program into a sustainable one. Check whether the cleaning products used are as eco-friendly as they can be and consider the durability of cleaning equipment like vacuums and brooms.  


Switching to Energy Efficient Appliances


Energy is a major expense for facilities. According to The Guardian, the average business’ energy bill represents almost 40% of its total turnover. Using energy efficient appliances is beneficial as they help prevent greenhouse emissions, save water and keep costs low. Older equipment can be quite harmful to the environment, therefore to boost energy efficiency make sure you update your assets. 

As a facility manager, your first step is to understand your current sustainability status. Conduct an audit to see where your appliances are wasting energy and monitor the status of your equipment regularly. Create a planned preventive maintenance strategy, this can help identify and track energy wastage. Regularly monitoring equipment can help extend the lifespan of your appliances.

Investing in new technologies allows businesses to benefit in the long run. HEPA filters, for example, are effective in removing ultra-fine particles such as dust and mould in the air. Additionally, using energy-efficient vacuum cleaners and dishwashers reduces energy consumption and improves overall product performance. 


Adopting Green Cleaning Products 


Some cleaning products contain chemicals that can be classified as hazardous. Switching to green cleaning products can help reduce many health and environmental concerns. 

There are some aspects to consider when purchasing eco-friendly cleaning products including checking the packaging. Try to choose brands that promote biodegradable packaging -  packaging made from materials such as wood, seaweed and corn starch. A common option for packaging is bamboo, this can help reduce your business’ carbon footprint. 

You can also find creative ways to adopt greener cleaning products. For example, some manufacturers produce mop heads from textile waste and recycled materials. Brooms and brushes can be produced from plastic bottles and caps in some instances. Assessing how products are made reveals how environmentally friendly they are. 


Reducing Water Waste


Paying attention to your water consumption is key. Every business uses water in different ways, monitoring your usage is a step towards lowering your company’s water footprint. Water audits also provide information on where opportunities lie for consuming less water and can immediately alert if a water leakage has taken place. Invest in water-efficient equipment such as toilet tank banks. Although costly, in the long run, they pay for themselves through water and energy savings. 

When cleaning make sure your cleaning team closes the tap when not in use, applies hard pressure when cleaning surfaces to avoid excessive use of water and implements an effective water management plan. Moreover, try to adopt a flat-mopping method and switch to low moisture vacuum systems. Simply try using less water. 


Raising Environmental Awareness in Your Workplace 


Creating a sustainable and eco-conscious organisation begins on the ground level of your workforce. The different ways you can encourage an environmentally friendly workplace is through first conserving energy within the office. There are plenty of ways to increase sustainability awareness in your organisation.

Establish a clear recycling program with a sustainability report, enable your employees to have access to reports on water and electricity usage in the workplace - which will promote awareness of how much the business is using and can inspire employees to make simple everyday decisions to reduce water and electricity waste. Promoting a paperless environment and making recycling a priority in your facilities saves fossil fuel energy and prevents waste. 

Ensure that the kitchen facilities only use reusable cutlery and coffee machines supply bamboo cups. Promote carpooling or lift-sharing between employees where possible to reduce emissions in that way. Not only will this help you reach sustainability objectives, but can also go a long way to fostering better relationships between co-workers. 


FMs are the Best Sustainability Executives


Facility managers make the best sustainability executives as they have experience in all facets of the organization and can build bridges between different departments to help promote a greener workspace. 

The demand for sustainability will accelerate in the future. Going green reduces your company’s carbon footprint but it also helps in increasing revenue. Customers care about the environment, especially millennials, by doing your part for the environment your business will reap both the financial and environmental rewards, now and in the future.

Picture: a photograph of three people in hi-vis jackets cleaning a large warehouse space using mops and hoses

Article written by Tim Bench | Published 17 November 2021


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