Green Floorcare in the Hospitality Industry.
By Gary Cirone
Thursday, 22nd February 2007
Most everyone has heard of Green cleaning but not everyone is familiar with Green floorcare - Floorcare costs can account for up to 30 percent of the hotel housekeeping budget. Considering the cost and impact floorcare has on appearance, safety, indoor air quality, and staff/guest health, it should not be overlooked when implementing a Green cleaning program.

Green floorcare involves the use of preventative measures, more environmentally protective or Green certified chemicals, and more advanced floorcare equipment.  It also includes cleaning processes that help reduce the need and frequency of more hazardous and time-consuming restoration procedures such as, sanding, grinding, or stripping and refinishing hard-surface floors. 

Green cleaning products, which are necessary in a Green floor care program, contain less or no petroleum materials, as well as zinc and other metals., They also use less environmentally harmful, naturally derived extracts from plants such as soy, corn, citrus or seeds and trees.

Key Elements of Green Floorcare
There are key elements that play a significant role in helping to Green floorcare.  Among these are:

1.   Soiling Prevention

  • Capture and remove soil at its source, the basic line of defense—and the least expensive and easiest to do—yet the most under utilize. 
  • Place twelve feet of entry matting inside/outside of all entries and exits or other areas where soil may accumulate or be generated.
  • Focus on the high traffic areas; the first 30 feet in and outside a building.  Frequent dust mopping, vacuuming, wet mopping, and burnishing capture soil at its entry source.
2.   Scheduling

  • Do not over-do it.  Floorcare is very strenuous work.  Expend only the appropriate amount of effort necessary to obtain desired results.  Additionally, excessive floor care cleaning often means more chemicals may be necessary than needed, which runs contrary to a Green cleaning program.
  • Establish a written yet flexible schedule based on pervious experience and actual floorcare needs.
3.   Training

  • Of all cleaning task, floorcare requires some of the most thorough training.  Involve employees, and supervisors in an ongoing education program.
  • Outside classes, offered by various cleaning associations and organizations should also be attended by supervisory personnel to learn about new techniques and programs in floorcare.
4. Safety

  • Every program must include filing Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), the wearing of protective clothing (PPE), record keeping, and safety meetings.
  • Use wet floor signs, barricade tape, and avoidance scheduling to make floorcare safer.
5.   Documentation

  • Establish quality assurance guidelines, inspect to verify compliance and make corrections if necessary.
  • Document the process, watch for trends, and improve.
  • Use quantitative tests to validate results.
  • Use environmentally preferable purchasing.
  • Validate your Green cleaning program with an independent third party auditor.
6.   Chemicals

  • Reduce the number of chemicals used in floor care to three or four items, or less.
  • Use products certified Green chemicals by recognized organizations such as EcoLogo, EPA, or Green Seal.
  • Use neutral pH products for daily cleaning.
  • Eliminate finishes that contain heavy metals or solvents.
  • Eliminate hazardous acids, alkaline and bleach.
  • Use natural disinfectants vs. quats and phenols.
  • Use concentrates with automated dilution systems.
  • Use dry vapor cleaning as a sanitization process.
  • Properly dispose of wastewater and slurries in sanitary sewers; never dump on ground, in parking lots, or storm sewers.
Floorcare Equipment

In order to protect indoor air quality, an essential component of a Green cleaning program, floors should be vacuumed instead of swept or dry mopped.  Additionally, the actual floor equipment used, buffers and burnishers to strip, clean, or polish a floor can play a significant role in a Green floorcare program.

Astute housekeeping supervisors should select floor machines with passive filtration systems and shrouds that cover the base of the machine.  These systems help collect dust and debris that are generated when using the machine, so they do not become airborne.  The shroud also helps minimize the amount of contaminants that can be released into the air.

Additionally, some hotels are switching to cylindrical floor machines, a new technology to the U.S., which has become quite commonplace in Europe.  Cylindrical machines use less water and chemical, which helps make them a Greener alternative. 

They also use brushes, not pads as with a rotary machine, which counter-rotate underneath the machine.  This helps minimize the amount of dust that can become airborne.  Additionally, one set of brushes can last as long as 100 rotary pads, placing less of a burden on landfills.

Floorcare Trends

Green floorcare is indeed one of the "hot" trends in building maintenance industry.  New equipment, chemicals, and systems are continually being introduced that make floor care safer, easier, and Greener.  Hospitality facilities looking for ways to Green their floorcare program should keep current with these trends so they remain on the cutting edge of environmental issues within the cleaning and hospitality industries.

Green Resources for Hotels and Other Facilities

  • Greenhotels.com provides information on applying Green processes to the hospitality industry.
  • environmentalchoice.com Certifies Green cleaning products
  • Greenseal.org Certifies Green cleaning products
  • usgbc.org Information on the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification program.
  • epa.gov Information on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), mold, and Green issues.
  • carpet-rug.org Information on Green carpeting, and the CRI's Green Label and Seal of Approval testing program for vacuum cleaners and carpet spotters, extractors, and cleaning chemicals.
Gary Cirone is the Executive Vice President of Tornado Industries, a leading U.S. manufacturer of professional cleaning tools and equipment.

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