Green cleaning and sustainability in FM

Green cleaning has moved beyond environmentally-friendly products, writes FMANZ communications manager Sara Carbery.

Green cleaning has moved beyond environmentally-friendly products, with a growing number of organisations and facility managers seeking a holistic and sustainable approach to cleaning, writes Sara Carbery, communications manager, Facilities Management Association of New Zealand.

Green cleaning from a facilities management (FM) perspective has been an evolution, says Rory Chacko, estates operations manager at Auckland University of Technology (AUT).

“People started talking about green cleaning when cleaning companies started using environmentally-friendly products. Now, that’s a given, and we’ve moved beyond that to a more holistic or sustainable approach to the cleaning industry.”

(Having said that, there are still plenty of conversations to be had around product lifecycle management. “More and more organisations are asking their cleaners how they get rid of their empty containers, how are they disposing of their old mops and buckets, and so on.”)

But it is ‘social responsibility’ that Chacko keeps coming back to when talking about sustainability. Partway through a Bachelor of Business, majoring in sustainable enterprise, he believes “enlightened facilities managers” are looking for ways to support the cleaning industry, rather than viewing it solely as a commodity.

For example, some organisations, such as AUT, offer their cleaners more sociable, daytime hours of work, leaving just the “noisier, messier stuff” for nighttime.  “This isn’t just a win for the cleaners, it’s a win for the organisation,” explains Chacko, “as we don’t have to have lights running throughout the night, and so forth.”

Another way facilities managers can be more socially responsible is by being less price sensitive. “If organisations going out to tender are solely looking for the best price, it’s a race to the bottom,” he says. The danger in paying minimum wage is that it can lead to a high turnover of staff, and workers not buying into the contract or the values of an organisation.

*This article first appeared in the November 2017 issue of INCLEAN NZ. Click here to keep reading.

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