Taking Strides in Reducing Water Consumption

Historically, the United States has had an abundance of water. The country has about 4.5 percent of the world’s population, but nearly 8 percent of its renewable freshwater.

While there have been serious droughts in the United States, including the great Dust Bowl, which dried up huge areas of the Midwest and northern plains in the early- to mid-1930s, it was not until the late 1970s and again in the 1980s that the water wake-up call sounded.

Droughts in the 70s and 80s

In 1977 and then again in the late 1980s, California was hit by two very serious droughts. The first one only lasted about one year. But, if it had lasted longer, the state would have essentially gone dry.

The drought in the late 1980s was a bit less severe, but still resulted in some of the first water restrictions ever passed in the country. These restrictions required toilet manufacturers to reduce the amount of water their fixtures used to 1.6 gallons per flush down from 2 to more than 3 gallons per flush. Urinals were restricted to about one gallon, which was also a significant reduction.

The Result: Technology Improvements

These droughts and regulations became the impetus for manufacturers to come up with new technologies to reduce the amount of water in products we use. For instance, a recent report by the non-profit Alliance for Water Efficiency compares water-using products we use every day in homes and offices with how much water these products used in the 1980s. Among the report’s findings are the following:

  • Commercial faucets showed an 86 percent reduction (from 3.5 to .5 gallons per minute) in the amount of water used in 2015 compared to the 1980s.
  • Commercial toilets showed a 68 percent reduction (from 5 to 1.6 gallons per minute) in the amount of water used in 2015 compared to the 1980s.
  • Urinals showed a 67 percent reduction (from 14 to 5 gallons per cycle) in the amount of water used in 2015 compared to the 1980s.

Impacting the Professional Cleaning Industry

Almost 30 years ago when manufacturers began introducing portable low-moisture carpet extractors, the goals were to address environmental issues and encourage greater customer satisfaction with faster drying times.

However, in order to build the machines, manufacturers had to either improve the vacuum systems on the extractors so the equipment could remove more moisture or reduce the amount of water the machines used in the first place.

However, what many manufacturers did was a combination of both. Traditional carpet extractors were using 1.5 or more gallons of water per minute. This means a 60-minute carpet cleaning job could easily use up to 100 gallons of water. With machines that consumed less than 1 gallon of water per minute, those numbers could be brought down to 50 to 60 gallons.

Similarly, equipment sometimes referred to as low-moisture floor machines have also helped reduce water consumption. An example of low-moisture equipment is cylindrical brush floor machines. These machines use as much as 30 percent less water than a comparable rotary floor machine, simply by the way they work and their designed.

Even microfiber cloths and mop heads have helped the industry use less water. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), water use is cut by 95 percent when using a microfiber mop head compared to a traditional string mop.

How to Practice Water Reduction

Beyond these technologies, there are ways cleaning professionals can help reduce the amount of water used in cleaning, and help the facilities they clean use less water. Among them are the following:

  • If a hose must be used to clean, do not use an open hose. Instead, use a spray gun that ensures water releases only when necessary.
  • If using a nozzle on a hose, change the nozzle every few months. Orifices on nozzles become wider as they are used, causing the nozzle to use considerably more water.
  • When cleaning commercial kitchens, a wall-mounted chemical/water-dispensing system can be very effective; however, these systems can release more than 10 gallons of water per minute— 600 gallons in an hour.
  • Encapsulation and other dry carpet cleaning systems use no water at all and can help delay carpet extraction by several months.
  • Use chemical dilution systems; while these systems were designed to monitor chemical use, they also monitor water use and can ensure to use enough water only to address the cleaning task at hand.
  • Suggest that facility managers conduct a water audit; a water audit can show where water is being used, misused, or can be used more efficiently.
  • Take a leading role in educating your customers and building users on ways to reduce consumption; this helps build customer loyalty, and using water more efficiently is something all build users must do.

Where it All Stands

Does all this good news mean we are out of the woods when it comes to water shortages in the United States? No. We are far from it. Climate change is having a big impact on water resources. Some areas of the country are experiencing more severe droughts than ever before. Even in water-rich areas of the country, due to warmer temperatures, the rate of evaporation has increased.

While we have made significant progress in reducing water consumption during the past 30 years, we are, at this time, in the second wave of water efficiency. The third wave, which is right around the corner, is going to result in more technologies, procedures, and products that can help us reduce water consumption far more than we have so far.

Green Building Report Shows Industrial Sector Prioritizes Sustainability in Design and Operations

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) released its LEED in Motion: Industrial Facilities, which highlights the collaborative efforts across the manufacturing sector to design and implement LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and prioritize environmental stewardship for industrial facilities. Currently, there are more than 1,755 LEED-certified industrial facilities worldwide totaling more than 496 million square feet and an additional 2,710 projects registered totaling nearly 737 million square feet. The report also showcases the most impressive LEED-certified industrial facilities in the world.

“The world’s manufacturing plants, industrial facilities and product factories have become an important cornerstone for the global green building industry,” said Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and founding chair, USGBC. “The growing adoption of LEED in this sector gives corporations another tool to achieve high-performing business operations and positively impact worker health, reduce water and energy use and increase cost-savings all at the same time. The companies who are using LEED for these facilities are raising the bar for the kind of leadership that will deliver the world we want for our children and our communities.”

Industrial facilities, which include manufacturing buildings, warehouses, distribution centers and industrial campuses, operate on a vastly larger scale than homes, office buildings or even a university campus. The manufacturing sector alone is responsible for 30 percent of the nation’s total energy consumption and uses an estimated 15,900 million gallons of water per day, which is roughly 4 percent of total daily water use. Through LEED certification, the world’s most widely used green building rating program, industrial facilities are more resource efficient and high-performing, which translates to increased asset value and millions of dollars in savings for owners and operators.

The manufacturing sector, which impacts every aspect of daily life, is essential to the global marketplace and a significant economic driver worldwide. In the U.S. alone, the manufacturing industry contributed $2.1 trillion in gross domestic product (GDP) in 2014 and, according to the National Association of Manufacturers, for every $1 spent in manufacturing, an additional $1.40 is added to the economy. The sector also provides 12.33 million jobs and indirectly supports an additional 18.5 million jobs. USGBC’s recent Green Building Economic Impact Study found that across industries, green construction jobs are poised to create more than 3.3 million U.S. jobs and $190.3 billion in labor earnings by 2018.

The LEED in Motion: Industrial Facilities report underscores how LEED is a transformative tool that positively impacts the quality of built space and can be applied to all building types. Because environmental, climate conditions, worker health and safety codes, standards, and laws vary, LEED provides a mechanism for recognizing those differences while still achieving the same credit intent and requirements. In developing the newest version of the rating system, LEED v4, the LEED Warehouse and Distribution Center adaption was designed to meet the specific needs of the global manufacturing sector and to ensure high-performance in human and environmental health, sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, supply chain and indoor environmental quality.

The report also features LEED-certified projects from international brands, including:
• Colgate-Palmolive Facility Expansion, Swidnica, Poland: LEED Gold
• Diageo/Guinness Brewery at St. James’ Gate, Dublin, Ireland: LEED Platinum
• FCA US LLC Trenton South Engine Plant, Trenton, Mich.: LEED Gold
• Intel Israel IDPJ Certification, Jerusalem, Israel: LEED Platinum
• Liberty Property Trust: Tasty Baking Co., Philadelphia, Pa.: LEED Silver
• L’Oreal Florence North Project, Florence, Ky.: LEED Certified
• Method Southside Soapbox, Chicago, Ill.: LEED Platinum
• Prologis Park Tres Rios, Cuautitlan Izcalli, Estado de Mexico: LEED Silver

Every day, more than 1.85 million square feet of space is LEED certified in more than 160 countries and territories. More than 78,600 commercial projects are currently participating in LEED, comprising more than 15 billion square feet of construction space. With specific achievement paths built in, LEED is designed for use in various building types in a variety of climates and localities, often synching with local laws and requirements.

LEED in Motion: Industrial Facilities is the latest in a series of reports from USGBC designed to provide a holistic snapshot of the green building movement in international markets. The report equips green building advocates with the insight and perspective to understand the use of the globally recognized LEED rating system and to make a strong case for sustainable building activity.

To read the full report, please click here.

Preventing Unpleasant Summer Smells

The summer sun usually brings to mind fond memories. But for many facility owners, high temperatures and humidity can also be the cause of unpleasant odors that affect guest satisfaction and the bottom line. To help business owners combat smells, Cintas Corporation identified some of the top summertime odor offenders and tips to tackle them.

“Customer satisfaction is strongly linked to perception of cleanliness,” said John Engel, Senior Marketing Manager, Cintas. “Facility owners can improve positive guest experiences by implementing cleaning programs and techniques that prevent and reduce odors, even during hot summer months.”

Keep nostrils happy by addressing the following areas:

1.      Kitchens – Fats, oils, grease and food debris can accumulate in kitchen drain lines, causing rancid bacteria buildup. Use of a drain line maintainer along with drain inspections can prevent these issues and costly plumbing emergencies.
Linens such as aprons, kitchen towels and bar rags come in contact with a variety of liquid and solid elements and can reek if left in a pile. Implement a rental laundry program with regularly scheduled visits to ensure replacement of dirty linens with freshly laundered options.

2.      Restrooms – During the busier summer season, offensive restroom odors, such as from bacteria buildup in clogged drains, can turn guests away. Today, customers can even access mobile apps that solicit feedback on poorly and well-maintained restrooms. Limit smells, complaints and poor reviews through frequent restroom cleaning and maintenance. Consider implementing air fresheners, urinal screens and restroom mats to stop odors at their source.

3.      Carpeted Areas – Without deep cleaning, carpeting in high traffic areas can harbor mildew, allergens and other smell-inducing bacteria that can be further perpetuated by humidity. Hire a certified carpet cleaning provider to remove contaminants embedded in carpet, extend its life and create a safer environment for those with asthma and allergies.

4.      Matted Areas – Entrances and other areas with floor mats, which capture liquids and dirt, can be a breeding ground for mildew and bacteria. A reputable floor mat service provider will supply mats and regularly clean matting to keep smells away.

5.      Air Conditioning Units – During peak summer heat, air conditioning units are necessary to create cool and comfortable environments. If not maintained, AC units can accumulate dirt, mold and bacteria on coils, drain pans and filters, which cause odors. Avoid undesirable aromas, improve indoor air quality and reduce energy costs with coil cleaning services.

6.      Supply Closets – Cleaning tools like string mops can hold odors, and spread them throughout your business. Consider easy-to-use and efficient microfiber cloths, mops and dusters, which are proven to clean more effectively than traditional tools. Scheduled deliveries of clean microfiber tools and the removal of dirty ones will help ensure that there are no lingering unpleasant scents.

7.      Break Rooms / Uniform Rooms – Employee uniforms can stink if they’re left in break rooms or locker rooms and laundered infrequently. Rather than depending on employees to clean and maintain uniforms, invest in a full service uniform rental program. Each week, the uniform provider will pick up soiled garments and replace them with clean garments, each hand inspected and repaired if needed. With a variety of uniforms available, every worker can present a positive image and be properly outfitted for the tasks at hand.