Create Partnerships for Sustainability Success

Cleaning contractors and distributors hold the key to their customers' environmental achievements

Create Partnerships for Sustainability Success

Most people would agree that partnerships and cooperation make achieving your goals easier. That generalization certainly applies to facilities working toward lowering their carbon footprint. Two guest authors disclose how facility managers and in-house cleaners have a better chance of reaching their sustainability goals when they partner with other segments of the cleaning industry. Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) expert Peter J. Sheldon reveals how professional cleaning contractors can help an organization stay on track with its sustainability objectives, and former building service contractor (BSC) Robert Kravitz explains the benefits of partnering with a distributor dedicated to environmental solutions.

Peter J. Sheldon

Today, it’s not enough for business owners to simply say they are committed to ESG issues. Governments, investors, and consumers increasingly demand that companies demonstrate their commitment. This insistence has led to the introduction of stringent environmental regulations and reporting requirements related to ESG performance.

Stakeholder groups also pressure companies to be more transparent about their ESG practices. For example, the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) developed a
framework for companies to disclose their climate-related risks and opportunities. The TCFS was created by the Financial Stability Board in 2015 to improve and increase reporting of climate-related financial information.

As a result of these trends, organizations face increasing pressure to integrate ESG factors into their business strategies. One way they can accomplish this goal is to partner with a reputable
commercial cleaning company.

Robert Kravitz

Before you set sustainability goals for the facility you are cleaning and maintaining, you might want to consider its carbon footprint. According to the World Green Building Council, commercial
buildings and construction account for 39% of all carbon emissions (carbon dioxide greenhouse gases) in the world; more than half of those emissions are the result of energy expended for
lighting, heating, and cooling buildings.

Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases trap heat when they are released into the atmosphere. This trapped heat is contributing to the Earth’s warming and is one of the critical reasons the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information declared 2023 the warmest year ever recorded.

 In addition to the sources mentioned above, greenhouse gas emissions released by buildings include:

  • Fossil fuels consumed on-site in response to electrical demand
  • Embodied carbon (a greenhouse gas resulting from the extraction, production, and transport of products and goods) found in building construction materials
  • Emissions from materials such as fabrics, wall coverings, and paint
  • Refrigerants used in cooling and refrigeration systems
  • Conventional cleaning chemicals.

Seek sustainability guidance

The amount of greenhouse gas emitted by buildings is expected to rise as more people return to offices from remote work and building owners find ways to repurpose their current properties. In the meantime, building owners and facility managers are looking for strategies to lower the carbon footprint of their buildings.

“The buildings and construction sector, as a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, must urgently be decarbonized through a triple strategy of reducing energy demand, decarbonizing the power supply, and addressing building materials’ carbon footprint,” said Inger Andersen, executive director of the United Nations Environment Program.

Cleaning professionals and facility managers, who often turn to jansan distributors for products and services, are also seeking guidance for implementing sustainability measures.

“Jansan distributors and cleaning contractors have become guides and teachers for their clients,” said Stephen Ashkin, president of The Ashkin Group, a consulting firm specializing in
green cleaning and sustainability. “Twenty years ago, they helped educate their customers about green cleaning and its necessity. They are doing the same today when it comes to sustainability.”

“Historically, contractors and managers have always turned to [jansan] distributors for guidance,” said Michael Wilson, CEO of AFFLINK, a distributor-membership organization. “This is
occurring again with sustainability. That’s why we are training our distributor and cleaning contractor members on the many components of sustainability, including pointing out the
countless ways it benefits their own businesses.”

According to Wilson, sustainable practices benefit businesses by:

  • Cutting utility costs through the more efficient use of energy and water
  • Reducing purchasing and disposal costs by using recycled materials and minimizing packaging
  • Expanding a company’s customer base by appealing to other sustainability-focused consumers and businesses
  • Enhancing a business’s reputation by generating positive media coverage and public recognition
  • Attracting investors who value environmental and social responsibility
  • Boosting employee morale and retention by creating a workplace culture that revolves around sustainability
  • Placing a company one or more steps ahead of future environmental regulations and requirements.

Peter J. Sheldon

Commercial cleaning services also play a pivotal role in helping their customers adhere to evolving ESG regulations and showcase their commitment to sustainability. By incorporating sustainable
cleaning practices—such as utilizing eco-friendly products and equipment, as well as minimizing energy and water consumption—commercial cleaning companies empower businesses to reduce waste and preserve resources.

Furthermore, commercial cleaning services offer businesses access to specialized knowledge and best practices in sustainable cleaning techniques and technologies. This invaluable expertise helps
businesses develop and implement comprehensive ESG cleaning strategies, resulting in enhanced environmental performance, cost savings, and a stronger reputation as an environmentally
responsible organization.

By partnering with reputable commercial cleaning companies, businesses can demonstrate their commitment to responsible and sustainable practices, gaining a competitive advantage in
today’s ESG-conscious marketplace. This strategic alliance enhances a company’s environmental performance and cost efficiency, while elevating their brand image and reputation as a socially
responsible organization.

Consider the benefits of certification

Many cleaning companies that market themselves as ESG-compliant are taking their commitment a step further by becoming ESG-certified by professional administrative networks.

Implementing the practices required for ESG certification not only showcase a company’s commitment to responsible business practices and sustainability. It also helps a company or facility mitigate various risks that can affect its reputation and its bottom line. For example, adopting environmentally friendly cleaning methods and using eco-friendly products can minimize the chances of becoming involved in legal or regulatory issues and mitigate reputational risks associated with harmful chemicals or unsustainable practices.

Despite all its benefits, an ESG certification won’t help you gain new business if potential customers don’t know you have it. That’s where marketing comes in.

Market your certification

To effectively market your ESG certification, you must implement several strategies. First, clearly articulate the value and benefits of your ESG certification to potential clients and stakeholders.
Highlight how it aligns with their values and business goals, such as risk reduction, reputation enhancement, and sustainability. Show how your certification sets you apart from competitors and
provides a competitive advantage.

This can be accomplished by developing a solid messaging strategy that emphasizes the positive outcomes of your ESG practices. Use persuasive language to convey the relevance and value of
your certification, highlighting the key reasons clients should choose your ESG-certified cleaning services.

Next, develop impactful content that highlights your certification status. High-quality content can educate and inform your target audience about ESG practices and their benefits. Share case studies, success stories, and data-backed evidence of the positive social and environmental impact of your cleaning services. You will also want to incorporate the ESG certification logo
prominently in your marketing collateral, website, emails, and other communication channels.

Don’t forget to leverage all digital marketing channels to reach a broader audience and promote your commitment to ESG practices. Communicate using social media platforms, online advertising, email marketing, and search engine optimization (SEO) strategies.

Finally, be transparent when you engage with stakeholders. Share regular updates on your sustainability initiatives, progress, and achievements. Publish sustainability reports highlighting your measurable goals, performance metrics, and areas of improvement. Actively engage with stakeholders, such as current and potential clients, investors, and industry associations, to showcase your ESG initiatives.

Remember, authenticity is critical when marketing your ESG certification. It’s essential to support your claims with concrete actions and evidence of your commitment.

Robert Kravitz

Like certifications, sustainability reports are another tool that can demonstrate your ESG commitment to potential clients. The practice of releasing sustainability reports was introduced in
the 1950s and has evolved and expanded considerably, especially over the past few years. Companies often release these reports in the first three months of the year, which is convenient for
potential clients looking to implement changes at the beginning of the year.

Sustainability reports are designed to inform investors, stakeholders, and customers about an organization’s sustainability performance, as well as its progress in achieving its sustainability goals.
“The reports empower stakeholders to evaluate a company’s sustainability practices, providing transparent and comprehensive information and helping stakeholders make more informed
decisions about a company’s impact on the planet,” Ashkin said. “This is essential to building a more sustainable and equitable future.”

According to Wilson, sustainability reports can be a valuable source of information for learning about sustainability for both businesses and their clients. “Reports may vary in format and complexity, but they offer a comprehensive overview of sustainability and can help contractors and distributors not only learn about sustainability but educate their customers about sustainability as well,” he said.

Ashkin and Wilson listed common elements found in a sustainability report:

  • Energy and water consumption: To become more sustainability-focused, contractors can adopt more efficient systems that reduce the amount of energy and water used to clean their customers’ facilities. Contractors can also help increase their customers’ awareness about conservation and the more efficient use of these resources. Raising awareness is key to minimizing consumption.
  • Use of green cleaning solutions: Green cleaning solutions minimize the use of natural resources and reduce the environmental impact of cleaning. Customers who understand the benefits of green cleaning products are more likely to request them.
  • Waste reduction: Waste in landfills generates carbon dioxide emissions that harm the environment. Recycling and waste reduction are closely related. A sustainability report details an organization’s steps to minimize waste generation and disposal. It also highlights an organization’s progress in recycling and reusing materials.
  • Workforce sustainability: Employees are the backbone of a business. Workforce sustainability involves valuing the contributions of your staff members; treating them with fairness, dignity, and respect; and providing fair wages, benefits, and advancement within the organization. This treatment fosters a culture of trust, commitment, excellence, and service that benefits both the employee and the employer.
  • Profit transparency: One of the critical components of a sustainability report is information on how an organization makes its money. Stakeholders, investors, and customers want to know that the companies they partner with operate in a transparent, legal, and ethical manner.

Demonstrate a commitment to sustainability

To show a commitment to sustainability, cleaning contractors and distributors must set clear and realistic sustainability goals that match their company’s mission, values, and vision. Then they must track and evaluate their company’s performance and progress in reaching these goals. However, they can’t expect to efficiently reach their goals on their own; they must also collaborate with key stakeholders. By listening to stakeholder input, opinions, and expectations, contractors and distributors can make informed decisions that benefit everyone involved in their business.

Ashkin reiterates that once it is clear what sustainability involves, it requires all levels of an organization to make it happen. “The most effective way to implement sustainability initiatives is to engage everyone, from the executives to the frontline workers and everyone in between,” he said.

Robert Kravitz


Robert Kravitz is a former building service contractor from Northern California. He can be reached at [email protected].



Peter J. Sheldon Sr.

Chief Strategy Officer, Anago Cleaning Systems

Peter J. Sheldon Sr. is the Chief Strategy Officer at Anago Cleaning Systems and facilitator of the company’s system-wide ESG implementation program. Anago Cleaning Systems was recently awarded an EcoVadis Silver Medal Sustainability Rating, placing the brand in the top 25% of companies within the facility services industry focused on ESG initiatives.

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