Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Green Cleaning 2.0: Equipment Manufacturers Get the Memo, Too

Posted by Sofia at 02:05

First, there was the trend towards using green cleaning solutions. If you could make the case that these cleaning agents were as effective, and, importantly, as cost-effective as their harsher chemical counterparts, then many people were willing to try going a little greener. With much of that low-hanging fruit behind us, the cleaning industry has moved to a more evolved green strategy that is far more comprehensive thanks in part to LEED certification efforts that have proven to be environmentally as well as economically impactful (the latter part despite public perception to the contrary).

In fact, studies have shown that the additional cost of construction for buildings seeking LEED certification is minimal (approximately two percent higher upfront costs), but the savings can be significant (as much as twenty percent of the total construction costs over the life of the building, or more than ten times the initial investment). In a phenomenon dubbed "green magic," the real estate market has recognized that value - sale prices for energy efficient buildings are as much as ten percent higher per square foot than conventional buildings, and occupancy and rental rates are higher as well.

The emphasis of the LEED process, and the industry's current holistic approach to green cleaning, is on sustainability and a better use of resources throughout the whole cleaning food chain - including the equipment you use, its impact on the health and safety of the cleaning staff, the lifespan of the materials in the building itself, and, of course, the stretching of the overall cleaning and maintenance budget.

So how are some of the world's leading industrial equipment manufacturers playing their part? Major equipment makers such as Advance and Clarke have made a commitment to creating equipment that helps contribute to the green movement in several key ways.

Better Water/Detergent Usage

In the past, floor cleaners scrubbers were unable to adjust water and detergent levels to the needs of the particular soil level of a floor, which meant that cleaning agents were oftentimes overused. The industry has since introduced flexible scrubber machines that allow workers to scrub using only water, mix the water at varying detergent dilution levels, or even add detergent as a "burst of power" for heavily soiled areas such as entries and lobbies, all without stopping to empty and/or clean the tank.

The resulting proper application of water and detergent for the particular needs of each section of a facility's floor not only lowers the risk of exposing building occupants to excessive detergent use, but it also reduces the costs and environmental impacts of overusing water, and adds to the useful lives of floor surfaces by not over-stripping them with harmful chemicals, all the while ensuring that floors are properly cleaned. Plus, labor is reduced because the process of cleaning at different dilution levels with one machine has become far more streamlined.

Healthier Equipment Features

Healthier machines improve the user experience, lower the environmental impact, and also save money in a number of ways including lowering work-related injuries, reducing sick-time and lowering overtime costs. For example, equipment manufacturers have worked to improve the ergonomics of their equipment offerings to lower the costly risks of injury and fatigue, as well as to lower the sound levels on several types of indoor cleaning equipment. Quieter machines not only lessen the detrimental impact that higher decibels can have on the hearing ability of the staff over time, but also mean that the equipment can be used more often during the day, which lowers the overall labor costs of a building's maintenance routine.

In addition, by equipping burnishers with vacuums, guards or other filtering devices that control dust, the industry has not only lowered the ancillary cost of cleaning the dust, but has also improved the air quality for the building's occupants and cleaning staff. Finally, manufacturers have been adding gel battery-powered equipment to their offerings, which reduces harmful exposure to battery acid and lowers battery maintenance costs.

In short, the industrial floor cleaners scrubbers product lineup has seen incremental, but meaningful, improvements towards a more clean and green set of offerings. Contrary to conventional wisdom, these improvements have been shown to have an equally lasting impact on the environment and the bottom line. This virtuous circle should help keep the "green magic" alive, even in today's tough economic climate.


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