To understand, from a facilities services point of view, what “Green” cleaning should encompass in terms of the entire “sustainability” issue, one needs first to define sustainability. The Prime Minister of Norway and Chairman of the Brundtland Commission, Gro Harlem Brundtland, defined it as:
“Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
From his definition emerges the values set and goal best stated as:
“To achieve human and ecosystem longevity and human wellbeing together”
Seen from this angle, we believe that “Green” cleaning has as much to do with “achieving wellbeing for people and ecosystems” as it does with reducing ecological stress or environmental impact.
Attempting to assist in the “quality of life” of our client community is the overall focus of Temco’s Healthy Green Cleaning Program.
Temco’s Position on Healthy Green Cleaning
Temco’s contribution to a “Green” environment for its client operations goes well beyond the passive provision of equipment and supplies, to actually conditioning the indoor environment, a place where most of us spend 90% of our time. What good is energy-efficient equipment if, in its use, it is creating and circulating additional dust, thereby reducing the quality of the air we breathe?
Just because your cleaning program is “Green” doesn’t mean it’s more effective in providing the healthiest indoor environment.
Temco’s systematic approach to Healthy Green Cleaning encompasses a number of important elements:
- Indoor air quality
- Noise pollution
- Measurable cleanliness (reduced bacteria counts)
Looking across the cleaning industry at the “Green” approaches taken by major firms, the focus is on three areas:
- Environmentally friendly chemicals (which can be purchased by anyone)
- Recycled paper products (which can be purchased by anyone)
- Equipment that is “Energy Star” compliant, vacuums with HEPA filters and dust-controlling floor machines (which can be purchased by anyone)
Each of these is essentially a passive approach to “Green” cleaning and offers no innovation; they are simply conveniences.
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Green Cleaning Issues
The Number One Reducer of Soil in Buildings: A Proper Entrance Matting Program The solution to a cleaner building starts with a very simple fix: entrance mats. Because 85% of ALL SOIL enters a building on the feet of people, addressing what people walk on can have a major impact on the cleanliness of a building. It costs an estimated $600 to find and remove one pound of soil after it has been allowed to enter the average building. Because entrance matting stops and contains soil and water, clearly it will be less expensive to remove water and soil from a mat than from surfaces throughout the building.
Indeed, a comprehensive study of proper matting under all weather conditions has found that matting dramatically improves lobby areas of all buildings and reduces the amount of soil that makes its way further into the building. A few dollars invested in the proper matting structure pays off in the cleanliness of your building.
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Chemicals and Their Use
Having “green chemicals” in their containers is one thing; ensuring safe dilution rates and correct application is another. Temco’s training focus and the work of its onsite management and supervisory staff ensures that all chemicals are used correctly, in proper proportion and only for tasks for which they have been designed and approved.
Temco also believes that the fewer chemicals used in the cleaning process, the safer and more effective the program. Our corporate staff works with individual clients to provide information on how to integrate reduction of chemicals and increase effectiveness of the cleaning.
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Indoor Air Quality
Indoor air should be clean and healthy – that is a major part of any “Green” cleaning program.
Poor quality air is known to contribute to allergies, asthma and other respiratory ailments. While a number of factors play a role in the quality of the air within a facility, effective cleaning methods and processes can make a significant difference.
Dust is a major contributor to poor indoor air quality and is known to be a carrier of various organisms and particles, such as dust mites, pollens, hair, skin cells, food crumbs, bacteria, and more. Ironically, byproducts of certain cleaning equipment and processes can also contribute to poor indoor air quality. These include pulverized or powdered floor finish, which is stirred into the air, as well as fumes from harsh chemicals, including strippers and finish.
Temco’s cleaning philosophy involves the thorough removal of dust as well as minimizing the need to scrub, burnish, strip and finish floors frequently, all of which factor into the quality of the indoor air.
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Floor Care Examples
The traditional method of cleaning floors involves sweeping with a dust mop, which actually leaves dust and debris behind. The typical custodian will then shake the dust mop and sweep the visible soil into a dustpan. Not only does this throw dust and dirt into the air, where it can remain airborne for up to two hours, but it leaves more dirt behind. Many hard-to-reach areas are rarely touched, such as light fixtures, high vents, under registers, etc.
Realizing the shortcomings of traditional dust-mopping, many facilities also use auto scrubbers to clean floors. However, a major issue with floor scrubbers is that their scrubbing action can actually grind away the floor finish and dull it prematurely. In addition, particulate matter is thrown into the air.
A burnisher is then required to restore the shine. The burnisher’s sanding action essentially removes the top layer of floor finish and blows it into the air, further degrading the air quality.
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Healthy Green Cleaning Method:
Temco uses equipment and processes developed by our strategic partners that differ significantly from traditional methods. We help improve indoor air quality by eliminating the need to dust-mop, as well as extending the time between burnishing, stripping and finishing floors. In addition, the system provides a “high dusting” capability, which enables dust and other soils to be removed from hard-to-reach areas.
Alternative to Mopping Floors
We believe that dry vacuuming is more effective at dust and soil removal than mopping. We have a system with dry vacuuming capability which is incorporated into a number of our cleaning procedures, including cleaning such hard-surface areas as hallways and classrooms.
This capability is delivered through a Wet/Dry Converter, which transforms equipment into a dust-free, bag-less, dry vacuum system. A water spray line attaches to the converter in seconds to produce a wet spray in the vacuum hose, which soaks the dry, dusty air and converts it into wet slurry that is collected in the recovery tank. The bag-free approach ensures better indoor air quality.
Another accessory, the Wide Area Squeegee, attaches to the equipment and enables the worker to clean hard-surface floors as effectively and quickly as an auto scrubber, but in a way that extends the life of floor finish. Unlike the auto scrubber, relying on its harsh scrubbing action to achieve results, our process of spray on, vacuum off, allows the cleaning solution to penetrate and float soils for easy vacuum removal. Keeping in mind the goal of improving indoor air quality, this process begins with wetting down the floor, which traps airborne and surface dust particles in slurry on the ground for easy capture.
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Disinfecting versus Cleaning
There has been much discussion around disinfecting, especially for cleaning heavily contaminated areas, such as restrooms. Powerful chemical disinfectants are viewed by some as the most effective way to eliminate germs, mold and odor-causing bacteria.
However, there is a growing belief within the scientific community that the use of disinfectants isn’t the best approach for removing germs and odors. It certainly does not fit the “Green” cleaning profile. This is especially true when disinfectants are used in place of effective cleaning procedures.
Disinfectants alone do not remove soil, an ideal food source for harmful, odor- and disease-causing bacteria.
Restroom Cleaning Example: Traditional Method
Consider the following scenario: a worker washes restroom floors and fixtures with a mop or rag and bucket of disinfectant cleaner. The solution in the bucket quickly becomes contaminated from the filthy mop or rag, so the dirt simply gets moved around from one area to another. Using a disinfectant does not compensate for the incomplete removal of soil; whose continued presence serves as a breeding ground for germs and bacteria.
In reality, the only way to disinfect is to eliminate the source of the problem – the soil – and this can only be done by thorough cleaning.
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Green Cleaning Methodology
Processes and Procedures Resulting in a Healthy Green Environment
Temco focuses on those areas that have the greatest potential for the spread of bacteria:
- Locker Rooms
- Desk Surfaces
- Door Handles
- Stairway Handrails
Typical cleaning specifications do not call for sufficiently frequent cleaning in these critical areas. Temco reallocates staff to ensure that these areas are cleaned frequently enough to ensure healthy cleaning.
Temco uses equipment designed to reduce microbial levels on surfaces and in the air. We can make this claim because we have the technology to accurately measure the levels of bacteria on surfaces and dust particles in the air.
Where the rubber meets the road, so to speak:
Anyone can wipe down a sink and make it nice and shiny – but is that the purpose of the process? No, that is a result of the process. The purpose is to remove harmful bacteria resident on the surface. Both traditional cleaning and Temco’s Healthy Green Cleaning methods will produce shiny sinks – only Temco can measure the bacteria residue to prove how clean it really is. (Certainly, one can measure the results of the traditional cleaning method, but on average you will find bacteria in counts 30 to 35 times higher than in Healthy Green Cleaning.)
Healthy Green Cleaning is more than a product; it is an evolving process that uses systems, equipment and chemicals in ways that generate successful, safe and healthy results. Temco’s IEMP™ Indoor Environment Management Program provides a suggested approach to expansion of the Healthy Green Cleaning Process and the introduction of a coordinated effort to create partnerships with our clients to address all issues affecting the quality of the “work or learning environment.”
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