Stephen Ashkin, president of The Ashkin Group, 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.
While his comments largely relate to the US, they are pertinent to other markets such as Australia and New Zealand.
“Building owners will increasingly turn to their suppliers, including cleaning contractors, to help reduce [resource] consumption,” Ashkin says.
“This helps to protect the environment and promote sustainability, while at the same time improving the bottom line.”
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,” Ashkin argues.
For example, some facilities managers are asking cleaning crews to turn off lights, printers, monitors, vending machines and other devices during evenings and weekends.
A vending machine alone can use up to 4,000 kilowatt hours each year – an amount equal to about a third of the annual electricity usage of an average US household.
To help building owners achieve these reductions, Ashkin also believes facilities will start using standardised sustainability colour-coding systems.
These systems allow managers and cleaning professionals to place coloured ‘dots’ on a variety of ‘plug load’ areas in a facility, from light switches and thermostats to vending machines. The various dot colours indicate whether a given electronic device can or should be left on, turned down, or turned off at certain times to save energy.
“These systems will prove their value as cost savers and help building owners become much more sustainable,” emphasises Ashkin.
Finally, he 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 organisations to track and report their use of natural resources.”