By Alan Hardcastle
Not only does the cleaning industry worldwide have a responsibility to engendering sustainability, it is also in the enviable position of being able to profit from delivering green services. The cleaning industry is also ideally positioned to work with its clients in assisting them to meet their environmental commitments. They were the messages imparted at the World Federation of Building Service Contractors 2011 Congress.
Held in Auckland’s Aotea Centre from 6 to 10 February, the Congress’s ‘protecting the planet’ theme complemented well the significant investment its major sponsor Diversey has been making in sustainability – both internally and as a global lobbyist.
Diversey CEO Edward Lonergan delivered an inspiring presentation that left delegates enthused [see story this issue].
The Congress delegates, representing some 15 countries, were welcomed by Building Service Contractors of NZ national president Brian Young together with an appropriate traditional Maori welcome.
“We are here to gain knowledge and to share knowledge. The world has changed since our last New Zealand-hosted Congress in 1994 when sustainability was not talked about,” noted Young. “We need to take the messages from this Congress and use them in future Congresses,” he added.
“Our sponsor Diversey has been a partner; they have a corporate vision and we are sharing that vision,” Young pointed out.
Setting the Congress scene, the first day’s keynote speaker was Rob Watson, CEO of EcoTech International and executive editor of greenerbuildings.com. An ‘architect of the US’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Watson is a champion of the cleaning industry and recognises the contribution better cleaning practices can make to a more sustainable world.
“Buildings are the worst thing we do for the planet,” Watson emphasised. While we do not see the negative impacts buildings create – unlike motor vehicles – they are the largest contributor of environmental pollution worldwide.
Watson presented an array of alarming and frightening stats. In the US buildings consume 70 percent of that country’s electricity while in China some 2000 sq km of farmland is being developed every year.
The good news is that LEED certified buildings ‘perform’ significantly better than non-certified, particularly in tough economic times. Those buildings with green credentials were leased at far higher rates.
Watson observed that historically there was a focus on energy costs, now there’s the advent of ‘energy and environmental services’ companies.
Under LEED (Green Building Council of the US), indoor air quality and cleaning practices are recognised and are ‘credited’ towards buildings achieving certification. Watson noted the reduced energy consumption resulting from daytime cleaning…
The Undercover Boss and daytime cleaning
Watson’s presentation dovetailed nicely into the real world of contract cleaning. Ex-England rugby international, part-time magistrate and CEO of Principle Cleaning Service Services (London) Doug Cooke talked about his on-site night shift as an ‘undercover boss’ as well as his company’s experience with daytime cleaning.
Principle turns over about 20 million pounds a year and employs some 2000 people, largely on London CBD sites.
Cooke’s cleaner experience taught him that cleaning is hard, physical work; better equipment was needed on site; rates of pay needed to be improved; and staff required more motivation. He followed through with increasing supervisor training; increasing pay to all cleaners; conducting reviews of equipment every six months; and embarking on daytime cleaning.
“There’s no need to clean everything, every day,” Cooke stated. “The benefits of daytime cleaning are energy savings; less cleaning needs to be done with concomitant savings; it’s good PR because clients see and interact with the cleaning staff; there’s more teamwork and more motivated cleaners; and fewer cleaners but better paid cleaners,” he expounded. Cooke emphasised the need for a ‘more ethical workforce’. By that he meant cleaners being paid better wages and being employed on better conditions.
And while to-date Principle has not moved more than a handful of clients on to daytime cleaning, Cooke said, “if they buy-in to sustainability then they will move to daytime cleaning.” The industry needs to sell, market, the many benefits that daytime cleaning brings, including improved conditions for cleaners.
BSCs should outsource their non-core activities
The Congress’s green content was also reflected in a presentation by Esty Environmental Partners’ principal Sandra Lauterbach who spoke on ‘Benefitting from Environmental Sustainability Strategies. Other speakers included Citi banker Brett Mitsch who addressed ‘How to capitalise on the emerging global/international platform of the services’ business; and Diversey’s president customer solutions and innovations Pedro Chidichimo who talked about developing a global supply chain.
Based on his experience working with BSCs, Chidichimo reviewed industry trends and looked at the industry’s ‘burning platforms – customer wins and retention; differentiation over the competition; financial optimisation; operational efficiency; people management; quality; and environmental issues.
“Today there’s a very high level of complexity in BSCs’ back of house,” Chidichimo noted. He observed that generally BSCs do not ‘harmonise’ cleaning practices and while they tell clients to outsource, they themselves don’t outsource.
Chidichimo presented a number of BSC cases studies, showing the benefits of outsourcing technical services including spare parts management; the way in which on-line platforms can enable ‘centralisation and sourcing harmonisation’; and the re-design of cleaning processes for higher efficiencies.
The Congress program included panel discussions that included ‘Cleaning as the life saver’ and ‘How do we become and stay relevant in pandemic response and preparation?’
A thorough full morning discussion involving contributions from a number of countries including the US, the UK, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil and Germany saw a consensus reached that the WFBSC will have as its ‘guiding light’ a commitment to change the global public perception of cleaning and develop the resources for members to educate and lobby in their respective markets.
“The WFBSC will work in partnership with national associations, contractors and suppliers to become the global authority on cleanliness and hygiene in the context of healthy workplaces and infection control,” concluded WFBSC executive vice president Large.
Bound for Curitiba
The next WFBSC Congress will be held 10 to 14 October 2012 at Expo Unimed, Curitiba, Parana, Brazil. Major sponsors will be Diversey and Karcher.
For INCLEAN’S photo coverage of the WFBSC 2011 go to www.picasaweb.google.com/incleanmag