Understanding the value of janitorial services

A worker cleans this floor with a specialized machine. Photo © Bigstock.com
A worker cleans this floor with a specialized machine.
Photo © Bigstock.com

Fooled by flooring
While choosing floor materials seems fairly straightforward, there are downsides associated with the most popular—and sometimes most costly—finishes. One cannot choose flooring based only on aesthetics or budget. Real-world usability factors, such as type of building and clientele, amount of foot traffic, ease of cleaning, and possible special maintenance products, need to be considered.

One of the most common examples is carpeting a high-traffic area. While carpeting is usually the most cost-effective option, if it is used in a high-volume area, it will be harder to maintain and will need to be replaced more often than a hard or natural surface, as these can better handle the wear and tear.

There are also more unique issues. For example, one corporate client used a high-quality, slip-resistant tile in its restrooms to increase safety. However, it soon discovered that when the tile got wet, it ate away at peoples’ shoes, leaving the floor looking scuffed and dirty. It took more maintenance than anticipated to keep the space clean.

Whether the designer wants to use ‘green-certified’ materials, luxury finishes, natural surfaces, or carpet, consulting a maintenance expert will help avoid some of these hazards. Before ordering anything, experts can advise designers on the most practical, best-performing, and environmentally responsible materials for their specific building needs.

Lobby luxuries
Lobbies are another area that can be deceiving. They are usually built to create an impression, rather than with functionality or the environment in mind. Expensive materials are frequently used in these applications, and they often come with hidden maintenance costs and limitations.

For example, luxury materials are frequently chosen for the lobby floor. However, studies show more than 70 percent of incoming dirt is tracked in by people’s feet. This dirt needs to be captured before it gets into the building to keep labor less-intensive. An effective matt program in the lobby is necessary, but most owners and designers either do not want to cover their expensive floor or do not realize how expensive proper matting can be.

While luxury lobby materials look nice, some products might need more than a simple wipe down to keep clean. Or, a warranty might specify using specific—non-green or expensive—cleaning products only available from a certain vendor.

Automation options
Even restroom design can benefit from pre-planning with a janitorial expert. Automated restrooms are much more efficient than their manual counterparts. They waste less water, soap, and paper products, and are easier to clean and maintain because there is less human touch involved.

Design professionals should also ensure they choose the right ultra-low-flow sensors for the building and that they are set up correctly. If not, they can decrease efficiency, increase maintenance costs, and create more waste.

Choosing automated dispensers that do not require refills of a proprietary product is also beneficial. In this case, the building owner will have more options when purchasing refill products to get the best pricing and value, green-certified materials, and timely purchase.

Recycling room to grow
Recycling is an important part of sustainability and almost all buildings have recycling initiatives. However, because planning for this effort is regularly overlooked, there is often insufficient back-of-house area to effectively accommodate waste stream flow and management requirements.

Dumpsters are often hidden behind concrete walls and in basements—making it more difficult for tilt trucks to access them, confining efficient recycling efforts, and hindering innovation. Without space for compactors, dumpsters need to be emptied more often, which is expensive.

With just a little bit of foresight and upfront expense, design professionals can save building owners and clients a lot of effort and expense in the long run. With proper back of house space, sorting stations, and staging areas, significantly more waste and recycling can be processed in the same area. This is a huge cost savings and can substantially boost recycling efforts.

Alan France is the director of sustainability, environmental services for ABM. He has developed and implemented the sustainable policies, procedures, and tools used by the company’s service teams under the GreenCare program umbrella in more than 37 million m2 (400 million sf) of commercial space. France is responsible for ABM’s internal sustainability initiatives, metrics, and reporting centered on the four principles of responsibility in the workplace, marketplace, environment, and community. He can be reached via e-mail at alan.france@abm.com.

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2 comments on “Understanding the value of janitorial services”

  1. It is important that for whatever building you have, that you keep it clean. Like you said, people tend to overlook this when in the design or construction process. I would do it then since I would have a good idea of what to expect. You did mention that certain buildings will need special or larger equipment to clean the areas more effectively. That is for sure something that you need to take into consideration from an early stage.

  2. In the contract cleaning business a janitorial service is usually an enhenancement to the core specification of the contract. Therefore resources for it is usually separate for the main/core.
    The core cleaning of retail supermarket is done after trading hours while janitor service is done during trading hours and are duties that are request by the store’s lead.
    Why is it imperative for the construction design to consider the janitorial service? It will minise risk and save costs in the event of accidents. If firms are able record activities and housekeeping records. These can be use for mitigation.

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