Skip to main content

Sustainability: Why Just Being Involved Isn’t Enough


BMS Building Maintenance Services - Mike Doherty

By Mike Doherty, President, BMS

Many years ago, someone told me the difference between “involved” and “committed” is a bacon and egg breakfast.  The chicken is involved.  The pig is committed. You may be wondering how this relates to the topic of sustainability in the janitorial industry.  Let me explain.

Over the last decade, the janitorial industry has adapted to the global push for sustainable cleaning practices.  “Green cleaning” is a key buzz word.  This push has been customer driven as more buildings adopted LEED and other sustainable standards.  We supplied the demand.

Over time, we have seen this change in practices lead to two distinct types of cleaning companies:

  • Those who do “enough” to say they have sustainable practices
  • Those who “live” sustainability

Sustainability: Involved vs. Committed

Most large commercial cleaning companies now have a Sustainability Policy.  Most use sustainable cleaning products such as microfiber, HEPA vacuums and probably dilution systems that eliminate harmful cleaning agents (bleach, aerosol, ammonia).  Almost all will have literature promoting their sustainability efforts.  These are the companies who are involved “enough”.

Commitment to Sustainability“Living” sustainable practices requires a commitment that goes far beyond doing just enough.  It requires companies that will invest in training supervisors to GS-42 standards.  All supervisors.  Those supervisors must train their staff in those standards.  Practice works better when all staff know WHY it’s being done.  Additionally, sustainability requires extensive documentation, such as:

  • Tracking percentage of green purchasing
  • Detailed logging of green floor and carpet care
  • Detailed logging of all sustainability training sessions

Senior management positions dedicated solely to these functions are essential.

Innovative Culture

Commitment requires companies who are always asking “What’s next?”  Janitorial supply companies have a wealth of resources that they love to share.  They provide information and demos of new products and procedures, if asked. It will then fall to the cleaning company to do the field trials and discuss the results.  Getting this buy-in from your field staff is essential if a new product or method is to succeed.

Customer Feedback

First Class Customer Service

Of course, customer interaction is essential.  All companies address their customers’ questions and complaints.  The committed companies are proactive in bringing challenges and practice results to the customer.  Wouldn’t every client want to know that their vendor has living, measurable systems in place for:

  • Quality Control
  • Sustainable purchasing/practices
  • Training
  • Feedback

These are things that the cleaning company should be insisting on discussing on a regular basis.  Additionally, cleaning vendors should initiate Quarterly Business Reviews as a standard.  They are extremely valuable for both sides of the table.  Reviewing measured and documented past performance leads to discussions of upcoming challenges.  Discussion replaces complaints.  As a result, clients have a partner, rather than just a vendor.

Technology Investments

Having these sustainable cleaning systems in place also requires investment in technology and technical expertise.  All of the above systems can be automated resulting in comprehensive, actionable reporting.  A company must also have the resources to implement technology.  As with other facets of sustainable practices, constant research into “What’s next” must occur, especially in technology, which morphs at light speed.

Top down Support

Finally, any company must have the will to implement, maintain and constantly improve all of these systems.  Management from top to bottom has to be informed, involved and committed.  Superior performance must be recognized and rewarded.  No system works without people who believe in it.

The Pig or Chicken?

At BMS we push every day to learn a little more.  We try new things all the time.  We’re not afraid to rely on our people to make us better. When it comes to sustainability we are wholeheartedly committed.

Chickens we are not!


Learn more about our sustainability practices here.

Have a question?

Get in touch

    Be in the Know

    Stay up-to-date on industry news, trends, and insights.

    * required form fields