By Tom Neu
Facility management teams are the unsung heroes of each facility and are increasingly tasked to do more with less. Not only are they behind the scenes making sure operations run smoothly, but they are also ensuring maintenance is covered and the facility is spotless. Another responsibility on the forefront of a facility manager’s job is sustainability.
Sustainability is no longer a trend or an issue for tomorrow, but rather a main focus and concern of today. Managing a business with stringent sustainable goals requires a systems approach. From cleaning products, to commercial window film and architectural finishes, there are long-term benefits to implementing sustainability into all aspects of facility management, and it’s best executed with a strategic and comprehensive plan.
A Greener Clean
There is more than meets the eye with a sustainably sound structure. Keeping a space clean and safe is key to maximizing a visitor’s experience and using products that have a low impact on the environment can support an organization’s overall sustainability goals. Benefits of sustainable cleaning products can range from the water flow of chemical management solutions, to durable and long-lasting floor pads that contain post-consumer recycled materials.
Floor care is one of the most important cleaning tasks, yet it can result in a large amount of waste. As a result, it’s important to choose floor pads that are durable and high-performing in order to extend the life of the pad and reduce the amount of waste that ends up in the landfill.
The cleaning chemicals used in a facility are also a crucial part of a sustainable cleaning system. Achieving accurate dilution of a cleaning product is vital for efficiency, effectiveness and safety. Meanwhile, avoiding under-dilution can help reduce water usage and waste, ultimately contributing to LEED certification.
Products with sustainable makeups can be a great addition to a cleaning program, and there are options on the market that are made with recycled content. The 3M™ Easy Trap™ Duster – Sweep and Dust Sheets, for example, are made of 60% recycled materials, and more than 65%t of the product’s packaging is made from recycled materials.
Refresh And Impress
A clean, pristine surface is just the beginning. For facility managers, the possibilities for integrating brand and design elements are practically endless when every surface becomes a canvas. Walls, windows, floors, glass, and more are prime real estate for promotional graphics or architectural finishes that make everyone feel welcome. With films and overlaminates, any space can be efficiently refreshed in a more environmentally-preferable way.
To meet increasingly aggressive sustainability goals, especially for healthcare and education facilities, managers can take advantage of films made without potentially harmful chemicals like chlorine or other halogens. An example is 3M™ Envision™ Wrap and Print Films. These non-PVC films maintain top performance attributes like versatility and durability, so when the graphics are installed, they stay looking fresh.
Architectural finishes are another effective way to execute a sustainability measure within a facility, while dually contributing to the aesthetic of the space. Architectural finishes can serve to revive outdated fixtures, like cabinetry, instead of dumping them in landfills. One option is the 3M™ DI-NOC™ Architectural Finish product line, which offers finishes that mimic patterns like marble, woodgrain, and stainless steel.
Achieving sustainability goals goes even further than limiting waste or using greener products. For instance, identifying different products and practices that can decrease energy use can be just as impactful as other conservation efforts.
Window films are one way to reduce energy use in a facility, as certain window films are equipped with heat-rejecting technology that keeps spaces cooler. These films, such as 3M™ Thinsulate™ Window Film, not only reject exterior heat, but also insulate existing heat — and air conditioning during the summer — indoors. This kind of film is ideal for climates that experience drastic weather fluctuations from winter to summer.
Certifications can provide a valuable third-party stamp of approval to help ensure that a product lives up to its sustainability claims. Here are a few certifications to keep in mind:
A GREENGUARD certified product signifies that it fulfills rigorous requirements for low emissions of volatile organic compounds into indoor air. If a product is stamped with the GREENGUARD Gold certification, it ensures it has met even stricter standards, and is suitable for use in spaces such as schools and healthcare facilities. For interior graphics, versatile, non-PVC 3M™ Envision™ Print Film 48C is a popular choice among facility and sustainability managers because it holds the GREENGUARD Gold certification, and can be used on walls, windows, floors, signs and more.
Green Seal is a non-profit eco-label that creates measurable standards for products’ environmental, health, or social impact. For example, Green Seal’s GS-37 certification has been the standard for all cleaning products for industrial and institutional use. Most chemical manufacturers including 3M have multiple chemical products certified on GS-37. As green practices become more prevalent, certifications such as Green Seal GS-37 provide a benchmark for facility managers to keep in mind when designing commercial cleaning programs.
This week, 3M announced that several of the company’s floor pads have received Green Seal’s Certification of Environmental Innovation under the GS-20 standard. The Environmental Innovation program recognizes products that significantly reduce environmental impact through product innovation. Floor pads from 3M achieved certification based on a design for significantly improved performance, durability, or both, extending the useful life of the floor pad and reducing solid waste generation. The Green Seal GS-20 certified floor pads from 3M include:
- 3M™ Black Stripper Pad 7200
- 3M™ High Productivity Pad 7300
- Scotch-Brite™ Surface Preparation Pad
- Scotch-Brite™ Surface Preparation Pad Plus
- 3M™ Blue Cleaner Pad 5300
- Scotch-Brite™ Clean & Shine Pad
- Scotch-Brite™ Purple Diamond Floor Pad Plus
- 3M™ Sky Blue Hi-Performance Burnish Pad 3050
These days, most older buildings are energy and water hogs, and the LEED-EBOM certification can help facility managers keep a keen eye on their operations. Using the rating system, facility managers can measure operations, improvements, and maintenance, with the goal of maximizing operational efficiency and minimizing environmental impacts. For example, using 3M™ Chemical Management Systems and 3M™ Floor Protection Systems can help contribute to LEED certification.
There are many different tools that facility managers can use to help meet their sustainability goals. Being aware of the opportunities to incorporate sustainable products and practices opens the door to lowering your facility’s carbon footprint and minimizing its impact on the environment.
Neu is 3M Commercial Solutions Marketing & Business Development Manager. For more information, visit 3M/facility.