Helping Cleaning Professionals Understand the Language of Sustainability was published for Green2Sustainable
The language of cleaning, business, and technology is constantly changing. As we move into the next decade, we can expect several new terms to become more commonplace within these industries. For instance, we will undoubtedly hear the phrase AI-as-a-service more frequently going forward. This refers to ways businesses can use artificial intelligence to improve the customer experience and streamline business operations, two crucial elements of a successful operation.
Another new term, predictive medicine, is also taking hold and may already be on your wrist. Smartwatches are able to capture data about our bodies and predict if a health issue may be developing – long before we experience any symptoms.
There are also at least three terms in the world of sustainability that we will hear much more about in 2020 and years to come. Because they will impact our industry and our businesses, now is the perfect time to learn more about them.
Renewable Energy Credits
One of the options jansan organizations have to increase their commitment to sustainability is to purchase renewable energy credits. When you purchase an REC, you are buying one megawatt-hour of electricity generated from a renewable energy source such as wind or solar power. This power is sold into local power grids, helping them reduce their use of fossil fuels, by powering customers with clean, renewable energy.
However, there’s more to RECs that we should be aware of. RECs are called “market-based instruments.” This means building and business owners can buy and sell them, often at a profit. In California, RECs are currently selling for about $17 to $19 each. Further, RECs are national market-based instruments. If you are located in California, you can buy RECs from 28 other states and territories, including Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, where prices may be lower.
Sustainability and “Carbon Footprint”
Here’s a term we often hear, but do we really know what it means? According to recent research, the average person in the United States is responsible for 16.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions released into the environment each year. These metric tons are our carbon footprint, and most of these emissions are from driving vehicles or having traditional (nonrenewable) electricity delivered to our homes and businesses.
In other words, when we drive our cars or power up our homes and offices, CO2 is released into the atmosphere. CO2, which is a greenhouse gas, harms the environment.
Fortunately, there are ways we can offset our carbon footprint. One way is to plant hundreds of trees and let them grow for about 10 years. However, a more expeditious way is to purchase the RECs discussed earlier – and possibly make a profit in doing so.
This term is commonly heard in the jansan industry, typically referring cleaning equipment and methodologies that streamline cleaning procedures. However, it means something entirely different in the world of sustainability.
One of the best ways to explain efficiency as it relates to sustainability involves water consumption. If your community is experiencing a drought, for example, you may be asked to scale back on water consumption by 10 percent or more. In other words, you are being asked to conserve water until the drought is over, which may be just a few months.
However, during that drought, you may decide to implement measures to reduce your overall water consumption permanently. For instance, you update all restroom fixtures so that they meet or exceed federal water consumption levels but still meet user satisfaction. You conduct a water audit, locate leaks, and replace water-using mechanicals, such as heating and cooling systems, with systems that use far less water. Aerators are installed on all faucets, and natural landscaping – referred to as xeriscaping – is installed because it requires less water while still providing a pleasing building appearance. In taking these steps, you have increased your water efficiency.
We can apply this same theory to many other things as well, such as installing LED lighting, which is very common now. Invariably, these and other new systems use less energy to create the same effect, often lasting longer as well, all resulting in cost savings.
Although these sustainability terms may not generate the same excitement as AI-as-a-service and predictive medicine, especially if it’s all being handled by a smartwatch on our wrist, they are terms that will grow in importance in 2020 and beyond.
Distributors, for instance, may be asked by a vendor what steps they are taking to reduce their carbon footprint, minimize energy and water consumption, or further the development of renewable energy. If that distributor wins a large account because they can verify these and other sustainability initiatives they are undertaking, although these terms may not be all that exciting, they are putting money in the bank. And for most distributors, that is good as gold.