The Times They Are A-Changin’

Here’s a Top 5 List of concepts that were NOT in the custodial contractor’s vocabulary just a few short years ago.

5.  Green.   About the only thing I remember being green was the color of butyl degreasers .  These cleaners  were also very unfriendly to the environment and to those who used them.   Thankfully, today we have Green buildings, Green companies, and even Green degreasers!

4.    Eco-Friendly.   Most of our paper products, i.e., paper towels, toilet tissue, facial tissue, were purchased based solely on the look and feel (and price).  Products were bleached to a bright white and there was little or no recycled content.  Trash can liners were thick, virgin resin and there was no thought to a biodegradable product.

All the major paper and some can liner companies today boast products with published and certified eco-friendly content.

3.    Low odor/Low VOC.   Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) are compounds which contain carbon (organic) and readily evaporate or vaporize.  Most of the smelly chemicals our industry was notorious for using emitted LOTS of these.  Floor finish and strippers, degreasers, and solvents, and paint, were in everyday use until awareness was increased and low odor and low voc products became available.

Today’s contractor has great choices on low odor, low fragrance, low voc chemical systems.  Closed delivery systems also make them even safer as all of the “mixing” is done with equipment rather than pouring or glugging.

2.    Indoor Air Quality.  Right on the heels of the VOC issue, indoor air quality was rarely addressed.  We vacuumed our way out the door and the vacs we used had such poor filtration that we potentially added a layer of dust as the last act of cleaning.  Never mind that we dusted surfaces earlier in the cleaning process along with emptying the trash.  We used cleaning products with strong fragrance, deodorizers that were designed to mask rather than neutralize odors, merely inserting a strong perfume on top of an unpleasant odor.

Indoor Air Quality is routinely a topic of discussion for building designers, owners and occupants.  High filtration vacuums, cleaning cloths that pick up and remove dust and soil, low or no fragrance products, neutralizing deodorants all play a pivotal role in enhancing a facility’s indoor air quality.

1.  Sustainable. A responsible approach to using natural resources….huh?  Rarely was a thought given to the conservation of water or energy.   Times do change.  With effective maintenance systems and programs we also work to preserve building assets.  If you actually get the 10 – 15 years that a carpet is designed to give rather than the carpet “uglying out” before it’s time due to careless or improper maintenance, we have contributed to sustainability.