Companies Are Responding to Climate Change: What About Yours?

sustainability, environmental, carbon footprint

While the cleaning industry spent the last year focused on the pandemic, 2021 has also presented enormous environmental and weather-related challenges. From destructive hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and along the East Coast and tornados across the South and Midwest, to droughts and flooding in the Southwest and West and forest fires in the Rocky Mountains and on the West Coast, weather extremes have affected every region.

This is not just a U.S. phenomenon as similar weather-related events are impacting countries around the world. Across Asia, Europe, the Caribbean, and Central America, climate change and associated weather-related events are increasingly affecting life, politics, and business.

Businesses take action

As businesses around the world take notice of their carbon footprint, sustainability has quickly become an important investment and commitment focus for companies across all industries, including the cleaning industry. A cleaning business can experience numerous benefits by investing in a sustainability roadmap and addressing climate change, such as lowering the operating costs of its buildings and being viewed as a leader in sustainable operations.

A recent Honeywell survey of almost 1,200 U.S. business executives at companies with 50 or more employees across a range of industries documented an evolving sustainability landscape for commercial buildings and outlined the top sustainability measures companies should take.

Nearly all survey respondents (93%) saw sustainability as a lasting priority, and 87% viewed it as a long-term investment rather than a cost. Sustainability has evolved from a fashionable trend to a business imperative as the world manages the short- and long-term effects of climate change.

Eight of 10 U.S. surveyed businesses currently report they have sustainability initiatives in place. Leaders are realizing that making their buildings more energy efficient not only reduces building management and maintenance costs but also contributes to a healthier workplace and increases competitive advantages.

Leaders focus on profitability and sustainability

As businesses recover from the pandemic, leaders are concentrating on restoring profitability and pursuing sustainability initiatives—most focusing on the physical spaces their companies occupy.

Property managers are reaping tangible benefits by making their buildings more sustainable. Many are enjoying reduced heating, cooling, and operating costs while luring new tenants to their environmentally friendly structures.

The Honeywell survey found energy-efficient lighting, HVAC optimization, and waste management top the list of sustainable initiatives practiced by both executives who work in company-owned offices and those who operate in leased spaces. These opportunities also exist for companies in the cleaning industry.

Sustainability is here to stay

Seeing that intense weather-related issues are becoming increasingly common, sustainability is here to stay. The new bottom line for companies embraces people, planet, and profit. More executives are viewing sustainability as a potential force multiplier for competitive advantage rather than simply as a means of demonstrating responsible corporate citizenship. This is true not only for the customers of the cleaning industry, but also for the companies within it. 

Stephen P. Ashkin

President, The Ashkin Group

Stephen P. Ashkin is president of The Ashkin Group, a consulting firm specializing in green cleaning and sustainability. He can be reached at [email protected].

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