By Daniel Krall
From the October 2013 issue of Today’s Facility Manager
It seems like every discipline in facility management (FM) is “going green” these days, and for good reason. Green solutions and practices deliver occupational and environmental safety benefits while at the same time often creating operational efficiencies. Commercial cleaning and sanitizing is no exception to this trend. Green cleaning can generate cost savings, provide greater convenience in obtaining solutions, and eliminate the use of harsh chemicals at a facility (which often have negative environmental and safety impacts). One emerging green cleaning and sanitizing option is the use of electrolyzed water.
What Is Electrolyzed Water?
Electrolyzed water describes two solutions—a grease cutting cleaner and a sanitizer—which an electrolyzed water system creates through the process of electrolysis. In electrolysis, salt containing water is subjected to an electrical current. The current, along with ion-selective membranes in electrolytic cells, produces two types of solutions: a high pH, non-corrosive dirt and grease cutting cleaner (sodium hydroxide), and a low pH, high dissolved oxygen, chlorine containing sanitizer and disinfectant (hypochlorous acid). The hypochlorous acid acts as a high efficacy sanitizer, while the sodium hydroxide is a broad spectrum cleaning solution.
Creating A Green Cleaning Program
By Roger McFadden
To incorporate sustainable cleaning makes sense for human health, the environment, and for businesses and organizations of all kinds. Given the obvious benefits, facility managers (fms) are experiencing more pressure than ever to be sustainable in their cleaning practices. While it may sound like a difficult and expensive process, it’s actually easier and more cost-effective than it may seem. Many of the same cleaning tasks can be done with sustainable products, instead of traditional chemicals. This can reduce inhabitants’ exposure to toxins, improve indoor air quality, and reduce waste.
It is possible to implement a successful sustainable cleaning program that doesn’t increase costs or introduce confusion to a facility’s current program. If fms prepare, coordinate with facilities staff, and properly communicate, they can run a successful green cleaning program. It’s great to do something good for the planet, especially knowing that this approach will help control costs and keep building occupants healthier.
Steps To Implementation
1. Fms should set guidelines and create a plan that will help to accomplish sustainable business goals. By defining what “green” means for the organization business, fms will help to minimize confusion, and decision making will be easier. Involved parties should first make a list of what they need a particular product to do; this way, searching for a safer, sustainable product alternative can be narrowed and focused on the needs, expectations, and goals for the facilities.
To help in this process, fms should create a list of surfaces cleaned throughout the facility, including how frequently these surfaces are cleaned. Gathering this information will aid in selecting a sustainable cleaning product that will meet the objectives and perform well for the specific facility environment.
2. Another step to an effective green cleaning program is to keep cleaning processes as simple as possible and communicate them accordingly. Facilities staff can create wall charts for employees to display processes and instructions on how products should be used. Additionally, fms should. provide hands-on training for the cleaning staff, when necessary. To get a broader perspective of building needs, fms might consult with specialized departments, subject matter experts, and other decision makers within the organization to streamline cleaning processes. This will help to understand their needs and concerns, which means a smoother transition for the program. Individuals from varying departments will likely have different concerns and questions.
3. In creating the green cleaning program, fms should use products that can be reused and avoid single-use materials whenever possible. For example, there are quality reusable cleaning tools designed for mopping, scrubbing, wiping, and washing. Floor scrubbing, stripping, and burnishing pads can be washed and reused. When used properly, wet mops can be employed for extended periods. And refillable cleaning product containers are better than single-use containers. This ultimately reduces costs and creates less waste within the facility’s operations.
4. Another significant step in green cleaning is to eliminate cleaning product redundancy and replace them with sustainable options that serve the same purpose. To do so, fms should select cleaning products that already perform well within the specific environment and determine what could replace them. For instance, some facilities have discovered that one general purpose sustainable cleaner can effectively replace three or four products currently being used to clean. By recognizing where one product can do the job of several, fms can reduce waste while also looking for sustainable options. Because having duplicate cleaning products can confuse staff and complicate the training process, that should be eliminated where possible. This will also help to streamline ordering supplies, while lowering costs.
5. Energy conservation also comes into play while implementing sustainable cleaning processes. Cleaning processes should be conducted at ambient temperature—select cold water instead of hot water when practical and appropriate. Staff should be reminded to turn out the lights in areas when they are not occupied and cleaning is complete. Additionally, purchasing decisions should incorporate data about what products and equipment use the least amount of energy, so fms should be sure to evaluate this information before making any purchases or changes to the program.
As an increasing number of facilities consider the switch to more sustainable cleaning products and equipment, there are more product options available at reasonable price points. Companies and distributors who offer training on sustainable products can help simplify the decision process and make a smoother transition to sustainable cleaning. Integrating these products and processes into a facility’s operations is one of the most beneficial ways fms can protect employees and other occupants by providing an environment free from harmful toxins, residues, and irritating odors, while at the same time being a steward of the planet. In addition, it is a great first step on the path to incorporating more sustainable practices in the overall organization.
McFadden is a vice president and senior scientist at Staples Facility Solutions. He has served as a consulting chemist and product engineer for several chemical manufacturing companies in both the U.S. and Canada. A charter member of the Green Chemistry Commerce Council (GC3), he chairs a committee to advance Green Chemistry and the EPA Design for the Environment (DfE) Formulator Initiatives.
Hypochlorous acid, the disinfectant produced by electrolyzed water, is not a weak substitute for typical, caustic chemical sanitizers. In fact, the disinfectant will eliminate most common types of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and spores within one to 15 seconds of application, and has tested to be 80% more powerful at 50 parts per million (ppm) than chlorine bleach at 200 ppm. Meanwhile, the sodium hydroxide can be used to clean carpets and upholstery as well as hard surfaces such as floors, walls, ceilings, and equipment.
Power Washing: Avoid EPA Fines
By Peter Tourian
Facility managers (fms) know that pressure washing is one of the surest ways to keep their building exteriors and outdoor structures free of dirt, mold, mildew, and other contaminants. However, they may not know about their responsibilities regarding keeping the environment safe from toxic cleaning chemicals. If pressure washing is done irresponsibly, it could cost a facility up to $50,000 per day.
As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) steps up its patrol of Clean Water Act violations, fms are under greater scrutiny to make the right decisions when it comes to hiring a pressure washing company. The law is clear. Business owners—not the power washing provider—face fines up to $50,000 a day if the water used in a pressure washing project contains dangerous chemicals or is allowed to contaminate the storm drain system. The EPA levied a record $252 million in fines from civil and criminal penalties, far exceeding the $168 million collected in 2011. Plus, in the recent case of Decker vs. Northwest Environmental Defense Center, the Supreme Court voted 6 to 1 to uphold the EPA’s interpretation of its own regulations.
So how can fms protect their organizations from possible violations? They can begin by asking targeted questions when hiring a pressure washing company.
Do you use any cleaning agents or products? Are these biodegradable or environmentally friendly?If the project at hand requires cleaning agents (instead of just water), it’s important to know what is being used. Caustic chemicals like bleach should be avoided. Fms may want to seek service providers that use citrus based chemicals that are biodegradable and environment friendly.
Does the service provider have equipment that can collect and clean the runoff wastewater after the cleaning process and prevent this wastewater from entering the ecosystem?
A water reclamation system captures and reuses wastewater, thereby greatly minimizing the risk of EPA violation. Fms should be sure to ask how the company handles water reclamation. If they do not reuse it, fms should make sure they are disposing of it in a way that is EPA compliant.
Does the service provider have adequate insurance coverage including pollution coverage or wastewater generation coverage?
Any company hired to clean a property must be insured in case of an accident resulting in injury or EPA violation. Fms must be sure that the pressure washing company has enough insurance to cover such occurrences. Also, they should make sure the facility property is covered on an insurance rider.
Does the service provider use contract labor or employees with workers compensation coverage?
Pressure washing equipment can produce enormous pressures—as high as 6,000 pounds per square inch. That’s strong enough to fillet skin right off the bone. According to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, there were an estimated 5,334 pressure washer related injuries treated in hospital emergency departments in 2012. Fms should not assume an injury can’t happen on their property.
Has the company or any of its customers ever been fined as a result of cleaning services?
Fms need to know whether or not the company or its clients have been a targeted by the EPA. They should ask for references and follow up with them. Managers can even visit the EPA’s website for a list of pending actions against companies.
Once satisfied that the pressure washing company uses EPA compliant practices, fms should then have a system in place to verify that the approved equipment is being used whenever they are doing jobs for the facility. Managers can ask to see the water reclamation hardware and ensure that it’s working properly. Finally, fms will want to run occasional spot checks when jobs are being performed to make sure the company has delivered on its promise to keep them out of trouble with the EPA.
Tourian is the CEO and founder of Araya Clean, a franchisor of mobile pressure cleaning property service providers. He is a 1990 Graduate of Arizona State University with a degree in Business Management, Small Business & Entrepreneurship and Human Resources.
These two solutions produced by electrolysis are effective cleaners while also being safe for the environment and people. These characteristics make it a suitable cleaning and sanitizing system for use in high-risk contexts such as hospitals and other healthcare facilities as well as food processing environments. Electrolyzed water also has potential for use in office, education, hospitality, and entertainment settings.
Be Clean And Green This Winter
By Jennifer Meek
With the fall season in full swing, facility managers and their cleaning providers are reviewing cleaning and maintenance plans for the cooler weather. Employing these tips can help to make the transition.
1. Floors in focus. Floors take a beating during adverse weather conditions. Entry floors should be scrubbed to remove soils and then recoated for added protection. Cleaning along with burnishing cycles may need to be increased.
2. Off the carpet. Many facilities delay carpet cleaning before and during the winter months. This can be a mistake as the carpets can become saturated with contaminants and impact indoor air quality. Thoroughly cleaning carpets before winter sets in can help keep them clean throughout the winter months.
3. Break the restroom routine. Seasonal transitions call for taking a fresh look at cleaning procedures and adopting new technologies, products, and methods where appropriate.
4. Install mats. Install 15′ of matting inside entryways to capture ice melt, salt, and sand.
5. Repair any floor defects. Soils and ice melt can become trapped in chips, cracks, and crevices.
6. Know product specifications. For example, some floor care chemicals are best applied at certain temperature ranges.
7. HEPA savings time. An easy way to remember when to clean or change HEPA filters is by changing them when Daylight Savings Time begins and ends.
8. Overhaul the program. A new season can also be the start of a new cleaning strategy. Many facilities transfer from conventional to green cleaning programs when seasons change, and the winter months can be a perfect time to transition to proven green cleaning chemicals.
Meek is marketing director at Charlotte Products/Enviro-Solutions.
The Cost Savings Question
Electrolyzed water is eco-friendly and safe for use in myriad facility types and applications, from healthcare facilities to entertainment venues. But would that matter if the expense for electrolyzed water was too high? The reality is that electrolyzed water might not be viable for some facility managers (fms) unless it can deliver the desired benefits affordably.
Because it is produced on-site at a facility, electrolyzed water can deliver cost savings compared to the typical process of shipping cleaning and sanitizing chemicals to a facility. Usually, cleaning and disinfecting supplies are purchased in bulk and shipped to the facility, where they are stored, used up, and reordered.
An electrolyzed water system generates cleaner and sanitizer on-site from tap water, salt, and electricity. Making the solutions at the facility minimizes transportation costs and emissions, storage space requirements, and the effort needed to reorder chemicals continually. Electrolyzed water is often produced for as little as two cents per gallon.
A Brief History
Electrolyzed water has been used around the world for decades to clean and sanitize, notably in Japan, Russia, and Europe. In Japan, electrolyzed water is used for everything from sanitizing sushi to filling swimming pools to medical applications. But despite its myriad uses and health and cost saving benefits, electrolyzed water has been slow to see widespread implementation in the United States.
Perhaps for some, electrolyzed water has seemed “too good to be true.” But as the technology has gained acceptance and been publicized in the United States, fms have begun to embrace it.
Richard Cardemon, president of Reliance Machine Company based in Muncie, IN, has implemented electrolyzed water “in a myriad of ways including cleaning and sanitizing of bathrooms and kitchen areas, washing down machinery, and cleaning glass windows throughout the facility.” With electrolyzed water, Reliance has “reduced [its] general cleaning chemical usage by almost 85% and replaced it with electrolyzed water at a cost of less than two cents per gallon.”
Electrolyzed Water Today
The technology is gaining ground in acceptance for use at commercial facilities as well as in the regulatory community. Electrolyzed water is recognized as a disinfectant by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Centers for Disease Control and listed for use in food processing by the Federal Drug Administration. As the technology has become accepted by the facility management and regulatory communities, it has become more widely available, in part, as a component of a welcomed trend toward “green” facility management solutions.
Krall is marketing project coordinator at Air Cycle Corporation, a sustainable solutions and technologies company offering recycling solutions, food waste diversion systems, and cleaning and sanitizing systems.