Guidelines for Establishing Green Cleaning Performance Metrics

Establishing metrics for your green cleaning operation depends on your goals. For purposes of this article, we will assume your goal is to clean for health and better environments as well as cleaning for appearance.

It is vital to develop a scope of work that clearly defines and details the steps to achieving both high-level and sub- or secondary goals. A scope of work is a formal document between the customer and service provider—in-house or contracted—that details the specifications of the cleaning program, and identifies deliverables including desired results, tasks and frequencies, tracking, and reporting.

A detailed scope of work links both high-level and secondary goals with tasks and task frequency, and only then can it include metrics to show progress in systematically reaching targets. The challenge is that many scope-of-work documents are vague, short on specifics, and may need rewriting to better enable reaching desired outcomes.

Below are pointers to help you develop a scope of work specifically crafted for green cleaning performance.

Re-engineering the Scope of Work

Since you cannot hit a target that does not exist, you must start by establishing the high-level and sub-goals that need to be met. If the current scope of work includes these goals, great; but, if not, you may need to start from scratch to build the main and secondary goals into the scope, and then work outward from there.

The following are examples of high-level and secondary goals to which you can assign tasks and metrics. Remember: Because we are establishing goals for a green cleaning operation, they also should achieve the following results:

  • They should remove and not add contaminants, allergens, or dust.
  • When practical, they should remove instead of poison germs.
  • They should minimize chemistry, while maximizing results.
  • They should present fragrance-free, residue-free, and nontoxic solutions.

High-level Goals: Embracing the Big Picture

People want their buildings to be healthy, but first, they want them to look and smell good. What does that mean and how can you achieve this by incorporating green metrics and solutions?

First, work with your customer to get the picture—literally. Working with the customer’s representative, decide what areas should look like when clean. Clean the space to the customer’s satisfaction, then take a photo of the desired outcome and place it into the scope-of-work document as a high-level appearance goal. Smartphones make it easy to capture shots of the ideal state of clean, enabling you to make those results aesthetic targets.

Learn from the fashion industry that uses models to sell clothing. Your photos of the desired outcomes are like those attractive, well-groomed, well-dressed models; they make the product—in this case, your cleaning services—desirable. Make your cleaning sexy by selling it.

Second, note how the office smells. It is important to help customers understand that clean does not necessarily have a smell. Fragrances are often air pollutants—with some exceptions, such as the aroma of a flower garden on a spring day—and therefore should be minimized. A lack of smell equals a clean environment and does not introduce outside contaminants during the process. Write it into the scope-of-work specifications.

Secondary Goals: Clean for Health

Now that you have the desired appearance goals nailed down, it’s possible to set secondary goals that make your cleaning healthier, creating a greener environment for your building occupants. Measurement tools can help to achieve this. For example, you may try to reduce the levels of dust in an area and document those levels by using particle counters. Inexpensive passive particle counters exist that can be placed in offices or other spaces to record airborne dust levels over time. Results can be uploaded to a computer and graphed to show improvements resulting from improved process.

No matter what assessment tool you use, establish a protocol, be systematic, and stick to the plan.

The scope of work can include taking these measurements with the goal of showing improvements to indoor air quality rather than hitting arbitrary metrics or numbers.

To establish metrics for measuring outcomes, start with a baseline measurement, then show before-and-after results from the implementation of, for example, a different vacuuming or dusting system, or even alterations in task frequencies. Since some facilities extend out task frequencies to meet budget constraints, it is helpful to know the results that can occur from less dusting or vacuuming.

If you prefer the white-glove approach, select five surfaces in an office as your sample, and swipe a clean white glove across the same five one-foot areas, taking a photo of what deposits on the glove each time. As you improve your processes, the gloves should stay visibly cleaner.

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) devices are becoming the de facto means of showing reduction of organic soils that can harbor germs. Check out ISSA’s Clean Standard (Editor’s note: Available for institutional and commercial and K-12 school environments; see for more information) for sampling and range guidelines, though you may wish to simply show general improvements rather than hitting numerical ATP level goals.

Tracking and Reporting

Fluorescent marker technology can also help to show whether or not surfaces have been wiped by placing an invisible mark on surfaces scheduled for cleaning. An inspector then follows the cleaning crew with a black light. Marks that have not been removed by wiping will glow. This practice can be integrated with ATP surface sampling, and built into the scope of work as a means to show the impact of your cleaning program and how results are lowering the levels of organic soils that promote microbial life.

Additionally, survey customers quarterly for their impression of the cleaning. Use a scale of 1-10, and track those findings to show consistent satisfaction or areas for improvement and resurveying.


Start with a complete scope of work that defines and sells your cleaning program through visuals and measures it through outcome metrics.

By developing a comprehensive scope of work, cleaning professionals can sell their services and establish green cleaning performance metrics that matter. The key is to define aesthetic and health-related metrics while achieving the ultimate goal of customer satisfaction and well-being.

Learn more about green cleaning methods for your office. 


Vital Reasons for Vacuuming

Carpet is a beautiful and sustainable flooring choice for homes, offices, schools, and commercial spaces. It provides a comfortable place to sit, work, learn, and play. It also cushions the impact of slips and falls, reduces noise, and makes it easier to learn and concentrate.

But carpet requires maintenance to keep it looking great and lasting long. Vacuuming is the simplest and most efficient way to maintain and clean carpet, prolonging its useful life and supporting healthier spaces for living, working, and learning.

Vacuuming carpet is just as important as changing the oil in a car. Both actions keep their respective assets operating at peak performance and reduce the possibility of expensive maintenance down the road. Here are some ways that regular vacuuming can benefit your facility, as well as best practices for maintaining your equipment.

Maintaining a Clean Environment

Vacuuming should be at the forefront of every facility manager’s carpet maintenance plan. Approximately 95 percent of all dry soil is removed from carpet by vacuuming carpet regularly. Not only does this improve the cleanliness of the carpet, but scientific research shows that properly cleaned carpet helps to maintain indoor air quality.

Preserving a Facility’s Assets

Regular vacuuming extends the life of carpet by removing dirt that damages carpet fiber. When custodial staff do not consistently vacuum carpet, it can become worn, tattered, or damaged before its time, leading to premature and costly carpet replacement.

In poor economic times, some facilities may choose to reduce vacuuming to cut operating costs. While this saves money in the short term, the long-term financial impact of poor carpet maintenance is less pronounced, as it leads to more extensive cleaning or expensive carpet replacement.

The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) recently worked with LGM and Associates to study the long-term financial impact of improper carpet maintenance in commercial spaces, including department stores, hotels, libraries, and condominium complexes. Research showed that without the benefits of regular vacuuming, carpet became prematurely worn and damaged, and had to be replaced. The average cost to replace the worn carpet in these facilities was just under US$60,000.

Vacuuming 101

Keeping carpet in its best shape through vacuuming requires you to keep your vacuum in its best shape. Here are some tips for how to keep your equipment and carpet in tip-top shape, so you can keep your floors looking great for as long as possible.

  1. Learn the operation of vacuums. Vacuums today come with many features and functions. Taking the time to learn about them will play a major part in your maintenance plan and improve the appearance of your facility’s carpet.
  2. Ensure the vacuum is in proper working order. Maintaining your vacuum is essential to keeping it and your carpet in proper condition. Regularly checking your vacuum to ensure it is running properly will keep it cleaning effectively and efficiently.
  3. Institute a cleaning regimen that includes a scheduled, wall-to-wall vacuuming of each room in addition to daily vacuuming of heavy-traffic areas. High-traffic areas require more attention, as more traffic means more dirt.

Carpet Cleaning Recommendations

Decision-makers should consider the type of carpet they need to maintain when purchasing a vacuum. Different carpet fibers, pile density, and carpet styles may require different vacuums to keep the carpet in optimal condition.

The beauty and lifecycle of carpet depends on the care it receives. Proper vacuuming will keep carpet in ideal condition for its full lifetime, maintain indoor air quality, and keep carpet warranties intact.

Indoor Air Quality

You may know the traditional methods for maintaining a clean and healthy facility:

  • Maintain clean surfaces.
  • Make sure soap and hand sanitizer are readily available for occupant use.
  • Minimize the use of products that might introduce harmful contaminants.

There is one vital addition to that list: clean air. While you can’t see the vast majority of pollutants in the air, the constant presence of viruses, allergens, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can dramatically affect occupant well-being. Asthma and allergies alone result in millions of missed days of work and school each year. Absenteeism is further exacerbated by airborne viruses, such as the flu, which are commonly transmitted through the air.

Absenteeism costs more than just time out of the office for the employee who is missing work. According to a 2014 survey report from the Society for Human Resource Management, unplanned absences in the United States cost employers 6.7 percent of payroll costs.

Providing clean air has a wide range of benefits, including increased occupant productivity, reduced absenteeism, and improved facility perception. In fact, recent research from scientists at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Syracuse University, and SUNY Upstate Medical University suggests that reducing indoor pollutants and carbon dioxide can significantly improve cognitive function.

Building occupants are becoming more aware of this issue and expect their facility managers to proactively address indoor air quality (IAQ). The benefits speak for themselves. Fewer allergy and asthma triggers and a cleaner environment mean more productive occupants, less absenteeism caused by airborne contaminants, and an overall better experience for all who enter your building.

Why Improve IAQ: The Basics

IAQ has a more profound effect on occupants than most people realize because the average person spends about 90 percent of his or her time indoors.

Polluted and poorly ventilated environments can cause immediate symptoms for occupants, such as nausea, fatigue, dizziness, and even throat and eye irritation. Over time, constant exposure to contaminants can cause more serious long-term respiratory and cardiovascular problems.

Facility air can be contaminated by a wide range of particles, including dust, mold spores, allergens, VOCs, infectious viruses, and even outdoor air pollution. When the air isn’t well-circulated, these contaminants build up over time. This causes poor indoor air quality, making environments uncomfortable and unhealthy for occupants.

Minimize the Flu, Allergies, and Asthma

The airborne flu virus is one of the most prominent contributors to poor indoor air quality.

Experts have found that handwashing does little to prevent the flu from spreading, but a sneeze or cough can quickly infect the air in an entire room. A recent study conducted by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology confirmed that a single sneeze can put a whole room at risk in only minutes. Additionally, people are contagious well before showing most symptoms of the virus, which leads schools and offices to become common areas for transmitting illness.

Asthma and allergies are another growing concern, because poor indoor air quality can quickly trigger these respiratory conditions, especially from outdoor pollutants that easily get indoors.

How to Improve IAQ

There are numerous methods for improving IAQ, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends three in particular: source control, ventilation, and air purification. To significantly improve IAQ, facility managers and cleaning professionals should be proactive and adopt a multifaceted approach.

Using an HVAC system to increase ventilation can generally benefit IAQ, but these systems are often too large, especially in offices and schools, to effectively target problem areas. Also, HVAC systems can actually spread germs from room to room, according to ASHRAE, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers.

Combining the EPA’s recommendations is your best bet. You can minimize contamination from harmful sources by removing hazardous building materials, and find green alternatives to cleaning agents with volatile organic compounds. These measures will help minimize several airborne pollutants from your facility.

Increased ventilation is important because it prevents the buildup of harmful airborne particulates, immediately benefiting productivity. One group of researchers estimated that doubling ventilation costs an organization about US$14-40 per employee per year, while the resulting productivity boost is worth as much as $6,500.

Consider air purifiers, especially in areas that have IAQ problems, such as restrooms and locker rooms, or common areas where people gather, such as classrooms and conference rooms. Commercial-grade air purifiers provide a targeted solution by directly removing contaminants from the air in areas with higher levels of contaminants. This reduces common complaints, such as odors or germs, in problem areas. Using HEPA filters, these devices can remove contagious airborne pathogens, including the flu virus.

Have a Plan

The benefits of improving indoor air quality are abundant for facility executives: fewer complaints, more productive occupants, and more time spent feeling health and well in your facilities. By proactively implementing a comprehensive IAQ plan with targeted air purification, you’ll provide a cleaner facility, increase occupant satisfaction, and earn a return on investment by increasing productivity and reducing absenteeism.

What to look for in your cleaning service provider.

Deciding on the right office cleaning company is essential, both to the outward show of your workplace as well as the healthiness of the personnel. Making certain that you explore your choice carefully will guarantee that you stay away from any errors. The reason of this article is to illuminate the important elements that should be considered when picking a janitorial service for your company.

Ahead of doing everything besides, you ought to first determine what your company needs from its cleaning company. If your business is a sizable one, you might need a big company that is competent to polish an whole building’s flooring inside a short deal of time. Phone each green commercial office cleaning company you are exploring and have a word with the supervisor regarding these necessities and talk about the company’s ability to meet those requirements. Talking with the supervisor is mainly critical as he or she is the facade of the business and will supply you with a understandable knowledge of the work ethic of the company.

Pricing is an additional key part of deciding on a janitorial service. Investing in a building maintenance company is necessary to the happiness and wellbeing of a business and its workforce. Finding the perfect balance between fee and quality of product is maybe one of the most crucial items to keep in mind all through your search. While cleaning and maintaining your office space is crucial, so is sticking to your office and/or business resources. Being obvious about your money with potential janitorial services will help you to stay on track financially.

No company has the exact same office cleaning wants. Therefore, not all offices would benefit from the same janitorial service company. Knowing your budget and cleaning needs and methodically investigating your possibilities will guarantee that you don’t miss out on the best office cleaning company for your company.

Prime Cleaning Services offers office cleaning in New York NY and  janitorial service in NYC. Feel free to browse our website for additional information.