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Healthy equals happy

How green cleaning practices can positively affect your bottom line

By Robert Owens

Your business is only as strong as your most valuable assets—your employees. In a competitive landscape, protecting their health and enhancing their productivity by incorporating green cleaning practices can positively affect your bottom line.

From workplaces across the country, stories abound. Employees are falling ill with respiratory problems, chronic headaches and other health issues—creating increased absenteeism and high health insurance, which all adversely affect the bottom line and leaves company executives wondering why so many workers are missing so many days.

What most of them don’t know is that the answer may lie in the actual buildings in which their businesses operate.

Why suffer?

According to the American Institute of Architects, 30% of U.S. workers suffer from health problems caused by volatile organic compounds from carpeting and furniture, inadequate air circulation, poor lighting and mold build-up.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates workers take up to $3 billion worth of sick days annually to recover from the ailments and numerous other health conditions that stem from unhealthy work environments.

A recent Consumer Federation of America study shows that about $100 billion annually in healthcare costs and lost earnings can be attributed to Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) and the reduced productivity it causes.

Although this poses a serious health and productivity threat to the American workforce, the good news is that more and more companies are realizing the importance of a healthy work environment.

A manifestation of increased environmental awareness, green cleaning is good for your employees—and for your bottom line.

Green cleaning benefits

Green cleaning uses a combination of products, practices and equipment to clean effectively while protecting the environment and the people who work there. Recent studies suggest that its effects are substantial.

According to the Indoor Environment Department at the Lawrence Berkley National Design Laboratory in California, improved air quality that is achieved through sustainable design, building and cleaning strategies can lower SBS symptoms by 20% to 50%, while cold and influenza are reduced by 9% to 20%, and allergies and asthma drop by 8% to 25%.

Understanding the importance of a healthy workplace and striving to improve the health and productivity of your employees through the use of technology and green-certified cleaning products will help you achieve a better bottom line in more ways than one. A few things to implement include:

•Spray cleaners. Instead of taking the mop-and-bucket approach to cleaning, use spray cleaners with microfiber floor polishers that are either reusable or disposable from the standpoint that they don’t introduce dirty water to the floor.

•HEPA filtered vacuums. Use vacuum cleaners that come equipped with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters that trap small particles that would be left behind by conventional vacuum cleaners or worse, lifted and spread into the air.

•Recycled paper products. You can also use recycled bathroom paper products—tissue paper and paper towels—because they are biodegradable.

Long-term benefits

By maintaining healthier, happier employees and a more sustainable workplace, green cleaning provides long-term health and cost benefits that clearly make the switch from traditional cleaning advantageous. If you have not incorporated these products and techniques into your business, now is the time to start.

Robert Owens, co-founder and president of O,R&L, has more than 22 years of experience in the real estate management and construction industries. Under his leadership, O,R&L Facility Services has become an industry leader in facility management, property management and janitorial services for properties and companies. He can be reached at O,R&L’s Florida headquarters at Bowens@or-l.com or through www.or-l.com.


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