ARLINGTON, VA—As the hotel industry continues to embrace sustainability in all its forms, hoteliers are looking at cleaning methods that are good for their workers and good for the environment.
“The BMS mission is to provide a clean, sustainable and healthy environment for hotel guests, hotel staff and our staff that provides the service,” said Michael Doherty, president, BMS. “Today, the average person spends up to 90% of their time indoors. The health of building occupants, whether it be during hotel stays, visiting college campuses, or working in commercial office towers, is our primary mission.”
BMS services more than 100 million sq. ft. of real estate across New York, Chicago and Washington, DC. Its hospitality clients include numerous hotels from brands like W Hotels, InterContinental Hotels Group, Grand Hyatt, Wyndham and others. Among the services available are green cleaning of public spaces, lobbies, back-of-the-house, kitchens and restaurants, and restoration and maintenance of interior and exterior metal, stone and wood architecture.
“Using sustainable cleaning products and techniques in the hotels we service is our standard procedure,” said Doherty. “Utilizing products that contain no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or other harmful chemicals is simply healthier for hotel guests. Guests will report fewer incidents of sensitivity to chemicals, fewer allergies, experience less skin, eye and respiratory irritation, as well as decreased nausea and headaches. The added benefit is that they are also safer for the environment.”
Doherty also recommends the use of Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI)-certified vacuums and equipment to ensure that dust and allergens are being properly removed from the indoor air, resulting in fewer cases of asthma by keeping airborne particulates at bay.
“From a methodology perspective, it is critical to your janitorial staff health that cleaning products be handled correctly,” he said. “Hotels must provide necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, and in some cases goggles, when handling certain chemicals. Appropriate safety training and emergency planning (e.g., in the event of a spillage) is also essential. On-site safety stations should be equipped with Safety Data Sheets, personal protective equipment for all tasks performed, eye wash stations and safety signage.”
What should hoteliers consider when selecting cleaning products for the hotel rooms and public spaces? When selecting cleaning products for hotel rooms, avoid fragrance, according to Doherty.
“People often mistake clean for smelling a certain way,” he said. “The truth is that clean should smell like nothing at all. Fragrance allergies are on the rise and heavy fragrance, even to someone who is not allergic, can irritate the skin, nose and eyes after prolonged exposure, especially in a hotel room. Collectively, hotels go through untold amounts of supplies, including plastic packaging. Selecting products with minimal or eco-friendly packaging can have a big environmental impact. One example is to have a dilution control system in place, which mixes cleaning solutions on site from concentrates, drastically cutting down the amount of plastic packaging when compared to purchasing ready to use products.”
Change is good, but is it more costly to include green products and practices? According to Doherty, it is a common misconception that green products are more expensive and less effective.
“This is false. These products are never more costly than traditional chemicals, and are equally, and in many cases more, effective,” he said. “In fact, when used properly, they should cost less. Microfiber dusting cloths, dilution control systems, efficient machinery and ample staff training provide tangible savings. The only cleaning program offered by BMS is a sustainable one. We have built green cleaning into our everyday operations and clean to LEED standards all the time.”
Practicing green cleaning as a part of your overall sustainability efforts has a positive impact on guest perception, which can lead to higher occupancy and revenue.
“As our society becomes more aware of impacts to the environment, people are actively seeking products and companies that use environmentally friendly practices. It’s the triple bottom line—good for the people, good for the planet, good for the balance sheet,” he said.
For hotels looking to get started in using greener cleaning practices, Doherty offers a dedicated sustainability department with LEED- and WELL-accredited professionals on staff. According to Doherty, BMS’ Green Clean program has been certified by Green Seal and the International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA). Both programs conduct rigorous audits of sustainable cleaning practices and training requirements.
“We are happy to perform an evaluation of your current operations and advise on how to transition to a more sustainable, environmentally friendly program,” he said. “Should these operations be outsourced to BMS, the cleaning staff will be trained extensively in Green Seal 42 standards. At BMS, we have created the BMS Green Clean program, which consists of our guiding principles and is modeled after, and ever evolving with, LEED’s green cleaning criteria. BMS has set and exceeded our corporate goal of 80% or more of our total purchases meeting sustainability criteria set forth by LEED and the Green Seal 42 Standard. In addition to cleaning, waste removal and management is an important aspect of daily janitorial operations. Our sustainability department is well versed on recycling and zero waste best practices and prepared to advise the hospitality industry on the latest strategies.”