Going Green May Mean Fewer Colds This Season

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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One errant cough or unexpected sneeze and the workplace becomes a veritable breeding ground of illness and resulting absenteeism. As the flu season approaches, HR managers prepare to deal with the headache of decreasing productivity. The World Health Organization estimates that the cost of influenza to the U.S. economy in terms of health care costs and lost productivity can range from $71 billion to $167 billion a year.

"Going green" may be all the rage in 2008, but in the form of cleaning, it has proven a significant means to ameliorate the negative effects of illness in the workplace. It is also an inexpensive, effective way to improve the overall health of a building.

"Green cleaning provides demonstrable benefits to improved indoor environmental utility that directly relates to decreased absenteeism and increased productivity. As a tenant leasing space in a building, you want to lease space that will provide the healthiest possible environment for your occupants," said Keith Schneringer, President of USGBC San Diego and Marketing Manager for Waxie Sanitary Supply, Western U.S.

San Diego-based Servi-Tek employs environmentally sound practices through the exclusive use of products that meet the strict requirements of green cleaning. They offer green cleaning as a standard of operation, not as an option in a menu of services like many of their competitors. This practice reduces the impact on natural resource consumption, enhances occupant comfort and health and minimizes strain on local infrastructure while improving the bottom line.

"When we first brought Servi-Tek on board, no other janitorial vendor was really speaking of the benefits of the 'green' concept. They seemed knowledgeable on the subject and that was impressive. And now that the concept has paved the way, it's nice to know we already are taking the required steps," said Shannon Fauteux, Senior Property Manager at Sentre Partners.

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Cleaning products can contribute to indoor air quality problems as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) evaporate and are circulated through the building's ventilation system. Indoor air is often several times more contaminated than outdoor air, and allergic reactions to unhealthy environments account for more than 10 million workdays missed by U.S. employees each year.

By replacing products that negatively affect indoor environmental quality, the health and productivity of all building occupants is improved.

"We use non-toxic, non-reactive chemicals that have a minimal effect on the environment. Additionally, companies see more effective use of energy and less water consumption through our green cleaning processes," said Kurt Lester, partner of Servi-Tek.

Because of the environmental and human health benefits associated with cleaning practices, the LEED for Existing Buildings (LEED-EB) Rating System has incorporated credits that reward green cleaning. Green cleaning provides an excellent opportunity to enhance a building's longevity without expending large sums of money. Servi-Tek's program meets all requirements for the maximum points available towards LEED certification. In fact, companies are already 19% of the way towards LEED certification by utilizing Servi-Tek's services.

Understanding the importance of green cleaning is only as good as its application. That's why Servi-Tek focuses so much on the training of their associates.

"Associates are trained in the use of earth-friendly chemicals as well as the appropriate application of equipment to make them most effective. The use of green chemicals alone is not enough to assure a building is 'green.' We also use HEPA-filtered hospital-grade vacuums to improve the air quality," said Eric Friz, partner of Servi-Tek.

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